PSINet scoring big with lacrosse

The NCAA men's lacrosse championships appear headed to PSINet Stadium.

The four Baltimore colleges that play Division I lacrosse - Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Towson and UMBC - will join the Maryland Stadium Authority in a bid that would bring the sport's major event to the Ravens' stadium in 2003 and 2004. A proposal has not been finalized, but the concept has the endorsement of the city's two major professional teams and lacrosse's power brokers.


"Everyone has always viewed Baltimore as a lacrosse town," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "There are a lot of things for people to do there, and that makes for the prospect of a tremendous weekend. I don't see any downside."

Besides running a program that has been to 18 straight final fours, Desko sits on the NCAA men's lacrosse committee. That committee, which is chaired by Washington College athletic director Bryan Matthews, is expected to recommend PSINet to the NCAA as the site for its 2003 and 2004 championships. UMBC athletic director Charlie Brown is a member of the NCAA committee that will weigh that recommendation and award the site.


"We're waiting for the application from the NCAA," Brown said. "UMBC will fill it out, for the only reason that we have the experience of being a host institution for the NCAA basketball tournament [at the Baltimore Arena in 1995]. We would make the event as classy and high-level as it can get. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved, and I think it would raise national interest in lacrosse."

NCAA championships are typically held by a single school or conference, but a joint venture was deemed necessary because none of the four Baltimore schools has the office staff that comes with a Division I-A football program. That layer of personnel permitted Maryland to hold the championships at Byrd Stadium seven of the past eight years.

Maryland will not bid on the 2003 and 2004 championships. It wants to scale back to playing host twice every six years, and plans a bid for the 2005 and 2006 championships. The Memorial Day weekend event, which includes the Division I semifinals on Saturday, the Division II and III title games on Sunday and the Division I championship on Monday, will go to Rutgers this season and in 2002.

Yale athletic director Tom Beckett said his institution was considering a bid for the 2003 and 2004 championships. Matthews said he knew of no other possible bidders.

The Division I championship was last decided in Baltimore in 1975, when Maryland beat Navy at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.

Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan raised the prospect of bringing the championships to PSINet when he chaired the men's lacrosse committee. Last summer, Boylan, Brown, Tom Calder of Johns Hopkins and Towson's Wayne Edwards were brought together by Sandy Jordan, a Hopkins alum who works as an investment adviser. The four athletic directors since have had discussions with officials from the stadium authority and the Ravens.

"We would clearly love to have the event in 2003 and 2004," said Luis Perez, the Ravens' chief financial officer. "We believe we'll get the event if we want it. We [the Ravens] basically rent the stadium. There has been some discussion about the economic model. I think that there will be enough interest for the four schools, the NCAA, the Ravens and the stadium authority to make a little money at the end of the day."

The Division I semifinals drew more than 30,000 to Byrd Stadium in 1995 and '97. Brown said even with the upper deck closed, PSINet could accommodate more than 40,000 for lacrosse. To avoid traffic gridlock, the Orioles have agreed to ask the American League to schedule them away from Camden Yards should Baltimore get the championships, said Rick Slosson, executive director of the stadium authority.


"My understanding is that their [the Orioles'] preference is to be away Memorial Day weekend anyway," Slosson said. "They are in support of this. We've got the hotels, the convention center, everyone on board. The mayor [Martin O'Malley] has written a letter of support. We figure that attendance would break all records for the event."

The NCAA favors on-campus sites for most of its championships, but lacrosse coaches have complained about Maryland's home-field advantage at Byrd Stadium. Other championships, including the Final Four in men's and women's basketball, are played in professional arenas. Baseball's College World Series has been played in Omaha, Neb., since the 1940s, and it's a staple at Rosenblatt Stadium, home to the Triple-A Omaha Golden Spikes.