Friday, the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse committee should be able to announce where the 2017 Division I national semifinals and final will be held.
The NCAA’s blanket ban on events held in North Carolina has led to a scramble over who will host. As far as we know, five bids have been submitted, and published reports say that two of the bidders are former hosts: Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins University and LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University.
Regardless of the identities of the other three, I hope they get a fair shot. The reason is that the Division I women’s lacrosse tournament has been held in exactly five states since the inaugural championship in the spring of 1982: Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
Given the spread and growth of lacrosse nationwide, I’d like to submit five locations, all in states that have never held the Division I tournament before, for consideration:
- Kennesaw State University Stadium, Kennesaw, Ga. The Atlanta Beat may have gone, but the stadium it helped built is still there. It is in the midst of the high-growth areas of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida, and the facility is about the right size (just short of 9,000 seats).
- Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill. The home of the Chicago Fire, a selection here would recognize what Northwestern has done over the last decade and a half to become a national powerhouse.
- Rentschler Field, Hartford, Conn. The stadium is just off the interstate, giving it all the comforts of being near Long Island’s youth player base but without having to fight expressway traffic having to get to one of the handful of bridges leaving the island.
- City Stadium, Richmond, Va. It may be old (built in 1929), but it’s easy to get to and is in the heart of ACC country. It’s along the I-95 corridor which is the main conduit for lacrosse families to get to events throughout the year.
- Delaware Stadium, Newark, Del. The University of Delaware’s football stadium is also easy to get to and is a short distance from the central cluster of where past championships have been held.
A couple of future stadia are also in play for future years:
6. Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, Fla. This soccer-specific stadium will seat about 23,ooo people, located in an area of superb growth of the sport. The amenities would be second-to-none, and Disney World is nearby.
7. D.C. United Stadium, Washington, D.C. Won’t be open until mid-2018, and is also smack dab in the middle of lacrosse country. Parking likely a problem; supporters would have to take the subway to get to the site.
I do hope the committee chooses a non-traditional site; it would benefit the sport.