Attendance at the NCAA men's lacrosse Championship Weekend has declined by almost half over the past six years, and the Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association intends to do something about it.
Calling the attendance nosedive a "disturbing trend," the association has announced that it has created a committee to evaluate the championships, specifically the attendance problem.
"The IMLCA was formed to help build the game of lacrosse and monitor the integrity of the game, so it is with these founding principles that the IMLCA Board of Directors has determined that the Association would be proactive in addressing this disturbing trend," IMLCA Executive Director Phil Buttafuoco said in the release.
Individuals from within the coaching community, athletic administrators and the corporate world are being invited to participate on the panel, according to the release, which states: "The IMLCA anticipates the committee will conduct several conference calls during the months of June and July and submit a position paper to the NCAA for consideration during the summer meeting of the NCAA Divisions I, II and III Men's Lacrosse Committees."
This year's Division I championships at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia had a total attendance of 56,668 (28,444 for the semifinals and 28,224 for the title game). That's about 44 percent fewer fans than attended the 2007 Championship Weekend in Baltimore, which set a record for sport's final four by drawing 100,447 to M&T Bank Stadium.
In a post last month, The Sun's Edward Lee looked at several possible reasons for the attendance decline and suggested a solution: Move the championships to smaller venues such as Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis (34,000 seats), Rutgers’ High Point Solutions Stadium in New Brunswick, N.J., (52,000) and Maryland’s Byrd Stadium in College Park (54,000).
Meanwhile, the state of Maryland is angling to make itself the "semi-permanent" home of both the men's and women's championships, The Sun's Jeff Barker reported in May. The host city or cities for the 2014-15 through 2017-18 championships will be announced in December.
Here's a look at the attendance figures since the NCAA moved Championship Weekend to NFL stadiums for the 2003 season:
NCAA Division I Championship Weekend attendance
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun