The NCAA announced on December 11 that the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship will be held at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in 2015 and 2016. Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium is the main site for the 2014 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament weekend.
Philadelphia was blessed with the return of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship Weekend where Stevenson won its first national title, Le Moyne withstood a surge by Mercyhurst and Duke came back to down Syracuse.
In 2012, PPL Park hosted the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Quarterfinals where fans watched Duke down Colgate and Notre Dame upset Virginia.
2005 and 2006 was the last time the men’s lacrosse tournament was held back to back years in Philadelphia. Attendance hit an all time high for the weekend in ’06 at 120,614 beating ’05’s record of 11,247. Baltimore took the record in 2007 with 123,225. In 2013, attendance dropped to 79,179, a little over 400 people less than 2012. This drop could be due to the coverage of the games on TV, giving folks easier access to viewing the games. 688,000 people viewed this past years championship game on television, increasing from 503,000 in 2012. It’s easy to say that TV exposure for the sport won’t be going anywhere.
With attendance in question, would it be wiser to move it to a smaller venue? Somewhere such as UPenn, where the 1992 finals were held, can seat up to 52,593. PPL Park was the host site for the 2013 MLL Championship Weekend but can only hold 18,500 persons, so that site will be out of the question if attendance plateaus or increases. However, the Women’s finals will take place at PPL Park in 2015 and 2016.
Lincoln Financial field is a great venue for the tournament weekend and can hold up to 68,532 fans. This will be the fourth and fifth times the stadium will host the men’s lacrosse tournament and will hopefully pick up in attendance.
Local fans and teams of every level will have to show up and support the fastest growing sport in America. This may even give the MLL a little more of a push into bringing a professional outdoor team back to the city of brotherly love.