Premier Lacrosse League independently releases trading card set

After years with Topps, the PLL decided to release cards on its own

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The Premier Lacrosse League is producing its own cards for the first time.

Lacrosse cards aren’t new, but how they are delivered is changing in a major way.

Without the help of a major trading card manufacturer, Premier League Lacrosse independently launched a new venture, PLL Collectibles, alongside its inaugural trading card release Wednesday.

The league’s first set, 2023 Snapshot, arrived with a 58-card base set including autographs and parallels.

Sold via the league’s website, the 16-card packs retail for $7.99.

Premier Lacrosse League co-founder and president Paul Rabil told cllct the reception has been more than they hoped for at launch

“We’re feeling better than expected — we’ve had to cap individual purchases right now to maintain inventory as we carry through the first day,” Rabil said. “I think it’s embodying a unique moment in our short PLL life up to this point.”

Along with autographs for the league’s top players, which fall once every four packs, collectors can hunt for foil cards (1:4 packs) and a lineup of parallels including Blue (1:6), Black (1:20), Red (1:50) and Gold (1:500).

The independent release from the PLL follows multiple years working with Topps. The league, founded in 2019, had a hobby release in 2022 after an online-only product in 2021.

According to Rabil, the league decided it was best to produce a trading card set on its own based on previous experiences with major manufacturers. Before the PLL’s relationship with Topps, Major League Lacrosse had trading cards deals with Upper Deck.

“The challenge that we have seen with trading cards isn’t too dissimilar from the (TV) network challenges in pro lacrosse history, where they used to not put much into product, into promotion and marketing, and they would yield lower ratings,” Rabil said. “We could come in and change that narrative.”

There are, of course, advantages to working with major manufacturers, most importantly the printing infrastructure that leagues don’t typically have. Being able to produce trading cards of a similar quality on a regular release schedule is a major challenge when operating independently.

Rabil says there are plenty of advantages to creating trading card sets in-house, too.

The league itself printing the product means there’s no negotiating between a third-party manufacturer and a league’s players association. The PLL has direct access to all of the team IPs and can negotiate directly with players for autographs and memorabilia.

“We can not only market more efficiently on a day-to-day basis, but we can also distribute through our own commerce team,” Rabil said. “And then the ability to bolt on player memorabilia, ticket offerings and other things is the ultimate flexibility in the way of innovation in this category.”

The 2024 season starts June 1 and features a rematch of last season’s championship between the Utah Archers and the Philadelphia Waterdogs.

Ben Burrows is a reporter and editor for cllct.