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A closer look at the low attendance figures

I had a chance to talk with Tim Pavlechko, who chairs the NCAA lacrosse committee, about the surprisingly low turnout at Saturday’s semifinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The announced attendance of 36,594 was the smallest since the NCAA moved the final four to professional venues after the 2002 season and was a marked departure from last season’s first visit to the Boston area, when 48,224 showed up for the semifinals.

At the risk of sounding like an economic analyst, Pavlechko speculated that the current economic climate affected interest in the final four.

"I think families have tough choices, and we’re all making those choices this year," he said. "I think it does have an impact. … If you look at the Preakness and the Indianapolis 500 and all that, you’re like, ‘Oh, everything’s down a little bit.’ Our fan base is composed of a lot of families. … Attendance figures aren’t the only indicator. Certainly, attendance figures are important to us, and we want fans to support this sport. So we’re looking into how we can take this sport to the next level."

A little later, Pavlechko added, "We’ve had five years in a row of raising the bar, and there were things outside of our control. I wasn’t going to sit there and go, ‘Oh, geez.’ Look at the experience those kids had. You saw those Cornell kids. You think they cared that there were 4,000 less people than before? They’re ready to play for a national championship. We know their alums are coming, and at the end of the weekend, I hope we can look back and say, ‘Boston made a huge commitment to us, they held two successful championships, and now we’re onto the next stage.’"

Finally, I asked Pavlechko if the selection committee – which was the target of some criticism earlier this month – felt validated after four of the top five seeds qualified for championship weekend.

Pavlechko chuckled and shook his head as if to deflect any credit. "At the end of the day when we left our selection committee meeting, we knew that based on our selection criteria, we felt very comfortable with the teams that were selected," he said. "Once you get to that point, anything can happen."

Posted by Edward Lee at 4:59 PM | | Comments (4)
        

Comments

Sorry, Tim, but attendance is down because Foxboro is a horrible site. My family and I traveled here for the last 2 Final Fours but will not come back in 2013. There is nothing to do and no atmosphere for lacrosse. Come to Boston if you want to see a baseball game. How your committee could pick Foxboro over Philly in 2013 is beyond me. You will be lucky to get 20,000 in 2013.

Pavelechko is being dishonest to the extreme on his argument. Maybe some of it economic reasons but that is just an excuse (baseball's attendance is off 4%). the preakness numbers of 35% can be directly attributed to the banning of all liquids into the infield and the people spoke.

the attendance numbers are off about 25% for the FF. this can be attributed to a couple of factors.
One, ticket prices were ridiculously expensive so that is an economic factor but not to warrant 25% lower attendance.

Two, you don't have the unique feel of a first time event that occurred last year at Foxboro so that you don't have the casual fan looking for a new experience to go to this year. The NCAA committee should remember that the next time it awards the FF to out of normal regions.

Three, Memorial Day weekend is earlier this year that means less fans with kids in school can go because they have to get the kids out of school.

Four, you only have 2 real traditional powers in the FF - Syracuse and UVA. The other two schools are not large state schools so they don't have the number of fans much less a strong reputation in lacrosse. Add in that no Maryland school - either D1 or D3 is in the FF means a strong contignent of lax fans didn't make the trek up 95

I have to agree with the other Mike - Foxboro is a horrible site, as is any stadium in the middle of nowhere.

Sites like Baltimore and Philly offer fans other things to do. In Baltimore, you can even walk to the games from nearby restaurants and hotels. But Foxboro is a sea of parking in the wilderness.

If it's trying to increase attendance and lure new fans, the NCAA needs to offer something besides great on-field match ups. They need venues that are easily accessible and offer something more than just an opportunity to tailgate.

Otherwise, the costs of tickets and travel, especially if your team isn't playing, are too much to overcome. I believe this is a big reason why attendance was way down this year.

interesting un-informed comments. In response to there being nothing but a see of parking lots at Gillette Stadium, Mike was obviously not at gillette stadium this year. the new patriot place development was open with 12 resturants, shops, a hotel, movie theatre, music venue, etc.... all within a closer walk than the 20 minutes it realistically takes to walk from the inner harbor to the MT Stadium.

And interesting that the price of the tickets is also being brought up and blamed on the New England based championships. Take a look at the prices for the 2010 championship. Yes, that's right, they are higher and don't include parking. That will be another $50...

and finally, because everytime i hear this i want to scream. You are no longer the only place lacrosse is played mid-atlantic. Lacrosse participation in new england now surpasses the mid-atlantic region.

Let's get your facts straight.

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About Faceoff
Faceoff is The Baltimore Sun's blog devoted to college and high school lacrosse. Faceoff contributors include Sun reporters Edward Lee, Mike Preston and Katherine Dunn.
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