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Premier Lacrosse League announces 2020 summer return to Baltimore’s Homewood Field

Paul Rabil did not anticipate the emotional impact of bringing the Premier Lacrosse League to Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Field in Baltimore last summer.

Rabil, a former superstar midfielder for the Blue Jays who co-founded the outdoor professional lacrosse tour with older brother Mike, said he was somewhat taken aback by the emotions welling up inside when he led the Atlas into a game against the Whipsnakes on June 22.

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“I definitely shed some tears,” he recalled Monday. "Going out to warmups and interacting with fans and remembering and recognizing some faces of the regular Hopkins supporters that were there to support the PLL and me and then going back in to change into my uniform and then come back out officially, it felt surreal. It was a great night despite losing a closely contested game. I stayed on the field until [the stadium] about emptied.”

It was easy to detect the pride in Rabil’s voice the day before the PLL officially announced that it will return to Homewood Field for three games June 20-21. Two games are planned for Saturday afternoon and night, and one game is set for Sunday afternoon.

Johns Hopkins athletic director Jennifer S. Baker was enthusiastic about the league’s reappearance at Homewood.

“The PLL provides yet another opportunity to welcome the highest level of lacrosse to Homewood Field,” she said through the university’s sports information office. “Homewood Field is synonymous with the sport of lacrosse, from our own long and storied history in men’s lacrosse to the countless NCAA and international events that have taken place here. We are thrilled to welcome back former Blue Jay Paul Rabil and his entire organization and we are very much looking forward to the games and the thousands of fans who will visit our campus that weekend.”

The Baltimore stop is the fourth announced by the PLL, which will open the season May 29-30 at the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The tour will then visit Kennesaw State University just outside of Atlanta on June 6-7 and Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, on June 12-13 before traveling to Baltimore.

A total announced attendance of 16,701 watched last year’s three games in Baltimore, including a sold-out crowd of 8,500 for the Saturday night game between the Atlas and Whipsnakes. Rabil, who described the stop as “a tent-pole weekend for us,” said he is hoping to top 20,000 fans in the tour’s return to Homewood Field.

“It’s the home for many people when they consider lacrosse’s origin,” Rabil said. “My friends, former teammates and foes on the field that have grown up in Baltimore were given oftentimes their first stick when they were babies and in some cases can’t even remember when they were given their first sticks. It’s a part of tradition, it’s a part of a lot of people’s fibers. It runs in their veins, and it carries on with many people who are from Baltimore, but may not live there today. When they think about the sport of lacrosse, they think about their upbringing in Baltimore and being down the street from Homewood Field and going to those massive college rivalry games that garnered national attention at that time of the year.”

Rabil said running the games on the same weekend as the annual Crab Feast youth lacrosse tournament, working with area restaurants and bars to offer food and drink specials for PLL fans, and organizing bus transportation to and from Homewood Field made the decision to revisit Homewood Field easy.

“I think for those reasons, being in Baltimore, if it’s up to me, it will always be in Baltimore in some capacity,” he said. “It gets me really excited and will hopefully get our fans excited.”

And this time around, Rabil said he will be better prepared to soak in the nostalgia of playing in his old stomping grounds.

“I remember when I walked out for warmups, and like a big game against Maryland or Syracuse during my college days, we had people in the stands getting excited, and you could smell the popcorn and the hot dogs, and there was music blaring,” he said. “It’s the perfect stadium size for a lacrosse game, and it felt like home for me. So I’m looking forward to being back there and playing again and giving myself more time to experience that moment in the second year.”

PLL 2020 SCHEDULE

>> May 29-30, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

>> June 6-7, Kennesaw State, Georgia

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>> June 12-13, Stony Brook University, N.Y.

>> June 20-21, Homewood Field, Johns Hopkins

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