Md. looks to make city regular host of NCAA lacrosse championships

The state plans to submit a bid this summer that it hopes will fulfill its vision of making Baltimore a "semi-permanent" home of the NCAA lacrosse championships.

"My vision is we're going after both men's and women's [championships], and we're going to create an epicenter" for the sport, said Terry Hasseltine, director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing, on Monday.

Baltimore already is a frequent home to the NCAA lacrosse final four and championship games. It hosted the men's and women's championships in 2010 and the men's championships in 2011 and will host the men's and women's final fours again in 2014.

Baltimore set the attendance record for a men's tournament championship in 2007, when an announced 147,094 watched the Division I semifinals and final at M&T Bank Stadium.

The economic impact of the NCAA events in 2010 — plus an amateur women's tournament the same year — likely amounted to more than $20 million for the greater Baltimore region, according to Hasseltine.

The state aims to take advantage of a unique opportunity the NCAA is offering. By the end of the year, the NCAA plans to name host cities for championships in lacrosse and other sports from the 2014-15 academic year through 2017-18. The NCAA conducts 89 championships in various divisions of 23 sports.

Maryland and other bidders have until Aug. 9 to declare their candidacies to host those championships. Bids are due Sept. 16, and the site selections will be announced in December.

"We want to make sure we are always in the rotation [for lacrosse] and that we can host it multiple years in a row." Hasseltine said.

The NCAA has not committed to awarding multiple championships to any site.

"There is no mandate or requirement for doing so," Jeff Jarnecke, associate director of championships for the NCAA, said Monday in an email.

Jarnecke said there are advantages — and disadvantages — to repeatedly returning a championship to the same venue. The NCAA holds the baseball championships every year in Omaha, Neb. The Division I softball championships are held in Oklahoma City.

"Certainly, efficiencies and economies of scale exist in longer-term agreements, as well as the ability to build excitement to that annual destination," Jarnecke said. "There is risk, however, in interest waning over time with an event residing in the same location for a period of time."

This season, the men's and women's Division I lacrosse championships as well as the men's Division II and III championships are being held in the Philadelphia area. Denver will play Syracuse and Duke will play Cornell in next weekend's men's semifinals. Maryland plays Syracuse in the women's semifinals, and Northwestern plays North Carolina.

The women's Division II and III championships this year were held in Owings Mills over the weekend. In addition to the Division I championships, Baltimore will host the men's Division II and III championships in 2014.

Philadelphia is expected to compete with Baltimore and other sites for future games.

"I'd be surprised if we're not in the mix in terms of a lot of the major championships we've successfully hosted in recent years," said Larry Needle, executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress, a division of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We haven't had the discussion with our local venues about which [lacrosse] events to go after and who would be leading the charge. Our geography lends itself to the lacrosse universe," Needle said.

Hasseltine said he expects the NCAA also would evaluate sites in the west and Midwest — regions in which interest in lacrosse has been growing.

Hasseltine said he'll be meeting soon with representatives of Maryland's lacrosse-playing schools in all of the NCAA's divisions so that a strong, "creative" bid can be prepared. He envisions Maryland regularly hosting "a huge event."

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