New minority-owned National Cycling League will have first race in Miami. Here is why

·4 min read
DAVID SANTIAGO/dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Add professional cycling to the growing list of sports options in South Florida.

The newly created National Cycling League (NCL) announced Tuesday the launch of a professional co-ed team cycling league, and the first race is scheduled to be held in Miami in March 2023 at a site still to be determined.

The NCL is billing itself as the first pro sports league in America that is majority-minority and female owned and will offer equal pay and resources for its male and female cyclists. Each city’s team will have 16 riders — eight male, eight female. The men and women will compete separately in criterium-style races on a 1-kilometer closed-circuit course (.62 miles), earn points for each lap and their scores will be added together.

To appeal to techies and egaming fans, there will be a virtual component to the league, allowing fans to log into the races from their home Pelotons and other stationary bikes and ride along in real time.

Miami, Atlanta, Denver, and Chicago are the first four NCL teams and the league plans to expand to 12 cities in the coming years. The Miami team will be called Miami Night Life.

The league is the brainchild of Paris Wallace, an entrepreneur and cycling enthusiast who moved to Miami from Boston during the early days of the pandemic and fell in love with the area. He noted the local passion for cycling as he took long rides in Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, Coral Gables and the Redland.

“The Miami cycling community is so strong, this area is growing in the world of tech and innovation, and it’s where I live and call home now, so it seemed the perfect place to get this started,” Wallace told the Herald.

His co-founder is California-based sports agent David Mulugheta, who represents 42 NFL players and has negotiated $2 billion in contracts. Forbes named him the No. 1 NFL agent in the world, the first Black agent to receive that distinction.

The NCL will be financially backed by investors from the world of sports, business and entertainment including Founder Collective, Collab Capital, Jalen Ramsey (Los Angeles Rams), Derwin James (Los Angeles Chargers), Kevin Byard (Tennessee Titans), Emmanuel Acho (Fox Sports 1) and Michele Roberts (former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association).

“Our mission is to create the next generation sports community by reimagining sports ownership, fan participation, and social impact,” said Wallace, who founded and served as the CEO of Ovia Health, the nation’s leading women’s health and technology company, which he sold to Labcorp in 2021.

Wallace also founded Good Start Genetics, a genomics technology company focused on fertility and reproductive health, which was acquired by Invitae. Raised by a single, disabled mother, Wallace attended Amherst College and Harvard University with the help of financial aid and scholarships and vowed to empower minorities and women when he entered the workforce.

Wallace said he is energized by the idea of a sports league that will have minority and female ownership and that will value male and female cyclists equally. With 60 million riders in the United States – 25 million of them hardcore -- he thinks it is the perfect time to start a league.

It is not the first attempt at a city-based national cycling league. A previous, unrelated National Cycling League (NCL) existed from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. It had NFL connections and among its owners were Super Bowl MVP Franco Harris, who was the majority owner of the Pittsburgh Power.

The teams included the Miami Wave, Boston Banshees, Gotham (later New York) Ghosts, Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Wings, Pittsburgh Power, Portland Thunder, San Diego Zoom, San Francisco Shakers, and Seattle Cyclones, later the Tulsa Cyclones.

The league folded in 1994. A few former riders from that league are working on the business side of the new venture.

“I’ve been in the sports industry for 20 years and this is the most exciting opportunity I’ve seen,” said Mulugheta. “Beyond the substantial number of people who bike, the ability to build the league from the ground up allows us to get the business, the values, and the ownership structure right. This is why so many professional athletes, entertainers, and people of influence are so excited about what we are building.”

For more information, visit nclracing.com