Who Remembers The Detroit Turbos: Michigan’s Pro Lacrosse Team?
Lacrosse is known by many names. "The Creator's Game," "The fastest sport on two feet," "stickball," and "the fastest growing sport in America." Whatever you want to call it, it deserves to be in the Midwest. In recent years, lacrosse has blown up all over the country, but especially within the Midwest. Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and of course Michigan have all seen an uptick in the number of lacrosse players.
Lacrosse has been around forever, originated from the Indigenous people and their culture, it was the first sport played on American soil. Three years ago, the Premier Lacrosse League(PLL) was founded by Paul Rabil and his brother, Mike. This would buy out the current professional field lacrosse league, Major League Lacrosse(MLL), and join the National Lacrosse League(NLL) as the only two professional lacrosse leagues in the country.
The PLL as a growing league currently has 8 teams and counting. With such a small number of teams, they are currently a tour based league with no city affiliation unlike the NLL. Although, they did merge with the MLL this year, adding the MLL's city affiliations to their league history. The NLL which had a short two year stint in 1974 and 1975, made a return in 1998 after the modern day league adopted the name change from the MILL, which started in 1989. Current NLL history begins in 1989 and includes four teams from the Midwest, with the most recent game played in 2015.
Illinois is one of only two states in the Midwest that was graced with the opportunity to enjoy two different forms of professional lacrosse. Illinois would play home to the Chicago Shamrox of the NLL and the Chicago Machine of the MLL. The Windy City has some of the most enthusiastic sports fans in the world, and lacrosse fits right in. The fans came to support the first year, but after tying for 4th with a 6-10 record and missing the playoffs the team was in jeopardy. The team was unable to find a new leadership team and folded in 2008, just 15 days before opening weekend.
The Chicago Machine were along the same line of "success" as the Shamrox. In 5 seasons of MLL competition, the Machine had an overall record of 13-47 and never made the playoffs. They were never really "Chicago's lacrosse team" as they played in various stadiums throughout the country, none of them actually being in the city of Chicago, the closest being in Bridgeview, Illinois. Nonetheless, fans tried to cheer the team on before it's players were moved to the Rochester Rattlers in 2011 and their team name and color scheme were taken by the Ohio Machine the following year.
The state of Ohio is the only other state in the Midwest that was lucky enough to host professional box(indoor) and field(outdoor) lacrosse teams. Fans could watch the Ohio Machine compete in the MLL and the Columbus Landsharks compete in the NLL. The Landsharks called Nationwide Arena home for four seasons playing to a 16-30 record and never reaching the playoffs between 2000 and 2003.
The Machine however were a little bit of a different story. The expansion team, which took its color and name from a failed campaign in Chicago, had a tough time winning games to start. Their first playoff appearance was 2014, but didn't see their first playoff win until 2016 and their only championship came in 2017, a year before folding.
The Minnesota Swarm, a NLL team, are the only professional lacrosse team of any league to play in Minnesota. In what was ten years of lacrosse for the fans in Minnesota, the team had success only missing the playoffs twice, but only having a divisional semi-final loss to boast. The team would then be sold and moved down south to Georgia, leaving the fans in Minnesota upset and missing lacrosse since 2015.
Some of us remember a time here in Michigan where we had our very own professional lacrosse team. At the time, laying turf down over the ice in Joe Louis Arena and placing 3x3 lacrosse nets in the creases brought the game to Detroit. The Detroit Turbos, sporting purple, black, and grey jerseys would represent the Motor City in the MILL. They would have continued success across the league but none better than what they achieved in 1991. Gary and Paul Gait, rookie twin brothers for the Turbos, would lead them to the title game, where they defeated the wings for the only NLL championship in team history.
The Midwest has the love for sports to allow the NLL and/or the PLL to not only be successful but flourish in any state that a team would be lucky enough to be gifted a team. With tickets ranging between $15-$80, and season tickets at a maximum of $700-$800 supporting a team close to you is affordable. Now that the NLL and PLL are back in full swing, there is Lacrosse year round with just a small 2 month gap between the end of the PLL season and the beginning of the NLL season. The only question to ask now is: If the leagues were to bring teams back to the Midwest, would you be a fan or would you be on the outside looking in? Want to see some Detroit Turbo lacrosse in Action? Check this full game out below: