A lot of work behind the scenes of the Face-Off Classic and Big City Classic
Thursday’s announcement of the lineup for the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic and the Konica Minolta Big City Classic next spring is the culmination of a lot of work on the part of Inside Lacrosse.
Inside Lacrosse, which is organizing both events, has had to shuffle teams and weekends to line up the programs taking part in both tripleheaders.
For starters, the Face-Off Classic – which will feature Syracuse-Georgetown, Virginia-Cornell and Johns Hopkins-UMBC at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday, March 12 – will take place one week later than its usual place on the lacrosse schedule. Also, the showdown between Johns Hopkins and Princeton is no longer an option as both schools expressed an interest to return the game to their campuses. It’s not that different from when Syracuse and Virginia elected to pull their annual contest from the Face-Off Classic slate after the 2008 season.
"We have moved it backward one weekend, and that’s because, quite frankly, it gave us more scheduling options," said Andy Bilello, the director of business development for Inside Lacrosse. "The Hopkins-Princeton game had been in for all four years, and [Blue Jays coach] Dave Pietramala and [Tigers coach] Chris Bates had expressed similar thoughts that [Syracuse coach] John Desko and [Virginia coach] Dom Starsia had previously. ‘Hey, we love what you guys do. We just don’t want to go another round with this particular match-up at a neutral site.’
"For a lot of these coaches, their dilemma is, this is a good experience for their teams, and it’s a way to gain additional promotion and exposure for their programs, but they can’t give up every game," Bilello continued. "So there’s a balance there you’re trying to achieve in making a really good lineup that’s appealing to lacrosse fans and also respecting that these teams have a lot of other things competing for their attention. They want to build their fanbase on campus, and they can’t give up every single quality game that they play."
The Big City Classic – which will involve Rutgers- St. John’s, Johns Hopkins-North Carolina and Syracuse-Duke at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday, April 3 – added the Blue Jays and Blue Devils while subtracting Princeton and Virginia.
The other notable difference is that the tripleheader will take place on a Sunday rather than its usual Saturday. The reason?
"It happens to coincide with the NCAA basketball Final Four," Bilello said. "Saturday evening is the semifinals in basketball, and we have North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse. Duke and North Carolina have won the last two basketball titles. So why give their alumni base and their fans in the New York area something to compete with that could involve their school? So we just thought we might be better off trying a Sunday and seeing how it works."