Friday, December 26, 2008

Baltimore and the Lacrosse Final Four

Two weeks ago, Baltimore became a finalist for hosting the 2010, 2011, and 2012 NCAA lacrosse Final Fours along with Boston, Denver, and the Meadowlands in New Jersey. M&T Bank Stadium has hosted three lacrosse Final Fours, the most recent being in 2007.

Baltimore is considered by many to be capital of lacrosse, so it makes sense that they would be a finalist. A number of schools can assist hosting-wise, M&T Bank Stadium has proven to be a good stadium to host the possible 50,000 fans due to its location, and a number of lacrosse events are played there currently, including the Konica Minolta Classic and the upcoming Day of Rivals.

Rumor is that the last time Baltimore hosted the Final Four, problems arose with the hosts. Since this is in a neutral field, the job of hosting the event falls on a number of schools, including Johns Hopkins, Loyola, and Maryland among others. Due to the increasing popoularity of this Final Four and the millions that go through it, the NCAA will want to be sure the host city will be a good one free of too much controversy.

All the choices have their advantages. Boston is the current host, setting a new attendance record in 2008. The Kraft family and Bill Belichick have long been supporters of the game of lacrosse, and they would certainly like to keep the event in Gillette Stadium. The NCAA may not want to give them so many Final Fours in a row, but Boston has proven to be a good host. The Meadowlands in New Jersey is near another lacrosse hotbed, that being Long Island, and they have a new stadium coming in August 2010. If the NCAA wants to have all three years go to one place, then the Meadowlands would not be ready by the 2010 Final Four. Then there is Denver, where there has been an explosion of lacrosse fever, with the Denver Outlaws leading in attendance in the MLL and recently hosting the MLL All-Star Game. The fact they are not on the east coast might hurt them since a majority of lacrosse schools and support are, and the average fan may not go to Denver for the games.

John Weaver of E-Lacrosse and the Baltimore Sun has a good analysis of the four possible cities. The decision of the 2010 Final Four will be made in February.

(Photo credit: E-Lacrosse)

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