TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Feb. 17, 2016 — Finding a market

The site selection for any NCAA Division  championship has to balance the potential growth of the sport for non-traditional areas with bringing the event closer to the sport’s greatest support.

For years, the greater Philadelphia area was the bridge between the two national lacrosse hotbeds — New York and Baltimore. Various NCAA Division I, II, and III tournaments were held in such varying places as Franklin Field in Philadelphia, John A. Farrell Stadium at West Chester University, Lions Stadium in Ewing, N.J., Clark Field at Gettysburg College, Palmer Stadium at Princeton University, Villanova Stadium in Villanova, Pa., and Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pa. This year sees the last of two go-rounds at the home of the Philadelphia Union, Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. for both Division I and Division III.

Next year, the Division I lacrosse tournament will take a plunge into unfamiliar territory. The semifinals and final of the tournament is scheduled to take place in Cary, N.C. at WakeMed Soccer Park, the home of the minor-league Carolina RailHawks.

North Carolina is a state which had exactly eight lacrosse programs in the spring of 2001. Today, there are 83. The state of North Carolina’s collegiate lacrosse programs have also had tremendous upward momentum over the last few years. Back in 1997, the University of North Carolina made its first appearance in a Final Four, then won its inaugural title in a triple-overtime thriller against Maryland in 2013.

In 2018, the Division II semifinals and finals are scheduled to be played in another non-traditional location, the state of Florida. The University of Tampa, whose program started only about five years ago, will serve as host. Florida is another place which has seen enormous growth in the sport, with 176 teams currently competing where there had been just 23 in 2000.

These should be some great competitions, ones which hopefully will spur even more growth in lacrosse.

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