Alibaba co-founder buys National Lacrosse League expansion franchise

Billionaire Joseph Tsai buys rights to new team in San Diego.

Alibaba co-founder buys National Lacrosse League expansion franchise

Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire Joseph Tsai has bought the yet-to-be-named National Lacrosse League (NLL) expansion franchise in San Diego.

Tsai, the executive vice chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has reportedly paid US$5 million to acquire operating rights to the team, which will begin play at the Valley View Casino Center in December 2018, according to Bloomberg.

A former lacrosse player at Yale, Tsai is also understood to have expressed an interest in buying a stake in the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“I have a strong passion for lacrosse, and look forward to bringing the NLL to San Diego,” Tsai, who is estimated to have a net worth of US$11.4 billion, said in a statement. “Our team is committed to creating a fan-first experience and to being an integral part of the local community.”

The addition of Tsai’s San Diego franchise means the NLL, North America’s top professional indoor lacrosse league, will have ten teams from next year.

Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick, who broke news of Tsai’s acquisition, reports that the league is currently eyeing the addition of ‘a couple of franchises annually’ over the next five years.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe Tsai and San Diego as the tenth franchise of the National Lacrosse League,” said NLL commissioner Nick Sakiewicz.

“Joe’s passion for lacrosse and his vision for our newest team is very exciting and along with the explosive growth in the south west it’s the perfect time for the NLL to come to the great city of San Diego."

An NLL statement said a 'special event' will be held this autumn to unveil the San Diego team's name, logo, and brand identity.