The Ravens, who will host next spring's NCAA men's lacrosse championships at M&T Bank Stadium, did not submit a final bid to host Championship Weekend between 2015 and 2018, largely over concerns about a scheduling conflict with the Orioles.
Lisa Dixon, the Ravens special events manager and special assistant to the president, told Inside Lacrosse on Friday: “We currently have no guarantee that we can avoid a conflict with potential Orioles home games in future years, and that is a critical factor in our ability to bid.”
Next season, the Orioles have two home games (May 24 and 25) scheduled for Memorial Day weekend. Because Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium share parking lots, parking for Orioles games could conflict with parking for the Division I semifinals May 24 and the Division II and III championship finals the next day.
Although an intent to bid for M&T Bank Stadium was submitted, Ravens team president Dick Cass acknowledged in a statement Friday that a final bid to host had not been made. “We are interested in bidding for and hosting more events at M&T Bank Stadium,” he said. “We did not get involved with this process because of scheduling and business issues. We will continue to assess each opportunity and look forward to helping bring more major and important events to Baltimore.”
The absence of a Baltimore-based bid, which had helped bring five Division I, II and III men's lacrosse championships to M&T Bank Stadium in the past 11 seasons, explains why the city was not named Wednesday as a finalist for upcoming Championship Weekends. Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and Soldier Field in Chicago are the three finalists to host the Memorial Day event.
Terry Hasseltine, director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing, is on personal leave and was unavailable for comment.
Baltimore's omission from the group of finalists is unusual; M&T Bank Stadium was the site of the most successful Championship Weekend in the sport's history, drawing a combined weekend-record crowd of 123,225 for the Division I semifinals and final in 2007. Along with the Long Island area in New York, Baltimore is generally considered one of the sport's biggest hotbeds.
But attendance has flagged in recent years, and scheduling conflicts might have contributed to the decision not to submit a bid. Next season, the Orioles have two home games (May 24 and 25) scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend. Because Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium share parking lots, parking for the Orioles games could conflict with parking for Saturday's Division I semifinals and Sunday's Division II and III championship finals.
A scheduling conflict prevented the Ravens from opening the regular season at home this September. Instead, they played in Denver, losing to the Broncos, 49-27.
Cameron Schuh, associate director of public and media relations, declined to comment on the reasoning behind the city's omission, instead outlining the men's lacrosse committee's mission.
“Just like with any championship, the committee looks to see what outlets are going to, first and foremost, provide the best experience for the student-athletes, what areas have the best opportunity to grow the game as well as attract a fanbase that has a lacrosse following, and the combination of getting this championship more eyeballs,” Schuh said. “We've been to a lot of great places. The championships have been growing over the last few years, and Baltimore and New England and Philadelphia and a lot of those East Coast places have really helped grow that. There isn't any one way or the other why some cities were picked and some weren't.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun