After eight consecutive years of falling attendance, the NCAA men’s lacrosse championships at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia this past weekend saw an increase.
An announced 33,137 attended Saturday’s semifinals between unseeded North Carolina and No. 7 seed Loyola Maryland in the first game and No. 5 seed Brown and No. 1 seed Maryland in the second. That was the largest crowd to watch the semifinals since 2011 when 45,039 came to M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
A crowd of 26,749 fans watched the Tar Heels outlast the Terps, 14-13, in overtime in Monday’s final. That marked the biggest number since 2013 when 28,244 turned out for Duke’s 16-10 victory over Syracuse at Lincoln Financial Field.
The total three-day attendance was 82,901. That is the largest number to attend championship weekend since 2011, when 98,786 showed up in Baltimore.
ESPN, which broadcast the semifinals and final, also reported increased viewership. According to the network, the title game averaged 476,000 television viewers, which represented a 43 percent increase from last year’s championship between Maryland and Denver. The semifinals and final averaged 306,000 viewers, a 13 percent rise from 2015.
Via ESPN2 on WatchESPN, the tournament final experienced a 171 percent increase in total minutes, a 131 percent increase in average minute audience, and a 96 percent increase in unique viewers from last year. On ESPN2 on WatchESPN, championship weekend saw a 110 percent increase in total minutes, a 99 percent increase in average minute audience, and a 70 percent increase in unique viewers from 2015’s three-day event.
The 2017 and 2018 championships will be held at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Foxborough has hosted the semifinals and final three times, drawing 121,511 fans in 2008, 102,601 in 2009, and 79,595 in 2012.