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September 30, 2010

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."

Posted by Edward Lee at 8:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, UMBC

September 29, 2010

Lineups for Face-Off Classic and Big City Classic announced

The lineup for next year’s Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic and the Konica Minolta Big City Classic has been set.

The Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore is scheduled for Saturday, March 12 and will feature the return of Syracuse and Virginia, two programs that have captured a combined 14 NCAA championships but hadn’t participated in the event since 2008.

Syracuse, which has collected 10 national titles including in 2008 and 2009, will open the tripleheader with a contest against Big East Conference rival Georgetown at 11 a.m. Virginia, a Final Four team last season, will meet another 2010 national semifinalist in Cornell at 1:30 p.m. And Johns Hopkins and UMBC will meet in a clash of local rivals at 4 p.m.

"We’re really excited about the lineup for 2011 because Virginia and Syracuse come back to the event after participating in the first two years in ’07 and ’08," said Andy Bilello, the director of business development for Inside Lacrosse. "If you look at it, Syracuse, Virginia and Cornell should all start the year ranked very highly in the preseason. Georgetown’s a team in the Big East that has that rivalry with Syracuse that fans are familiar with, and they’re a team that is usually on the cusp for a NCAA spot. And then we have a good local rivalry. Johns Hopkins is going to look to redeem itself after going through – by their standards – what may have been a disappointing year, and we expect them to be a top team in the country like they always are. And UMBC has gone to the NCAAs four out of the last five years. When it comes to the potential quality of the overall group of schools, it would be hard to be stronger."

The Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is slated for Sunday, April 3. The tripleheader begins at 1 p.m. with a showdown between Rutgers and St. John’s.

Then Johns Hopkins will meet North Carolina at 4 p.m., and the event will conclude with a meeting between Syracuse and 2010 national champion Duke. The Big City Classic will mark the first time Syracuse and Duke will meet in the regular season since 1992.

"Rutgers and St. John’s, again, we were looking for another way to connect with the grassroots of the lacrosse audience in the tri-state area," Bilello said. "So it just happened to be a nice fit for that weekend. The other two games, again, we were looking for great match-ups with teams that are likely to be at the top of the polls. We know Hopkins is always going to be good or fighting for a spot at the top. We expect North Carolina to be one of the most talented teams. They’re going to be near the top of the rankings in the preseason, they’ve been to the NCAAs several years in a row and knocking on the door to get to Memorial Day weekend. They had the top-rated recruiting class in the country this past season. And Syracuse and Duke, those are the last two national championship winners."

However, the Day of Rivals doubleheader involving Johns Hopkins-Maryland and Navy-Army will not return next year, Bilello confirmed. All four teams expressed an interest in returning the games to their respective campuses – a sentiment that persuaded officials at Syracuse and Virginia to pull their annual meeting from the Face-Off Classic after the 2008 version.

"We always knew from the outset that these games had such great importance and tradition to those schools that it would be very hard for them to continue playing at a neutral site forever," Bilello said. "I think it’s very similar to what had been mentioned previously by the coaches at Virginia and Syracuse, that, ‘We like the idea, and it was a good experience. We just think it’s important to have our athletes and our fans and these games on campus.’ Certainly, we’re open, and I think the schools are open to looking at the possibility of doing this again down the road. At least that’s our position on it. We love these games, and that’s something we’ll always be thinking about."

Posted by Edward Lee at 6:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Navy, UMBC

September 21, 2010

Reaction on Baltimore hosting 2014 Final Four

In announcing the news that Baltimore would host the 2014 NCAA men’s lacrosse championships, the Ravens also included reaction from several representatives who helped Baltimore serve as a host.

Here they are:

"I’m thrilled that the NCAA will return to Baltimore, the cradle of lacrosse, for the 2014 Men's Championship Tournament," said Gov. Martin O’Malley. "This event belongs here, and we're happy to welcome it back next year and in 2014. Baltimore has clearly demonstrated it is the ideal place for all things lacrosse. The location is central for the majority of teams and followers of the sport, and the fan experiences at Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor make it the ideal choice for families on Memorial Day weekend."

"With a deep historic connection to the sport, as well as a strong, loyal fan base, Baltimore is a natural host for the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championships," said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "We are very pleased to be named the host for the 2014 finals, and I look forward to welcoming thousands of lacrosse fans to our great city."

"The Maryland Stadium Authority is pleased to be a part of the dynamic partnership that continues to bring high profile, well-attended events to Camden Yards," said John Morton III, who chairs the Maryland Stadium Authority. "Together with the Ravens, the City of Baltimore and the Office of Sports Marketing, we’ve been very successful in our bids. These activities provide significant return on our investment by generating revenue from visitors while providing additional entertainment opportunities for our residents."

"Today is a great day for lacrosse in Maryland!" said Terry Hasseltine, director of Maryland’s Office of Sports Marketing. "The NCAA’s announcement highlights Maryland’s commitment to the game of lacrosse. We put a lot of sweat equity into our support for the game, and the NCAA recognized our efforts by awarding us the 2014 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse National Championships. With today’s announcement, Baltimore, Maryland is already positioned to deliver a first-class event in May 2011, but starting today, we can build on our strategies long-term."

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:28 PM | | Comments (1)

2013 Final Four to Philadelphia, 2014 championships to Baltimore

The NCAA announced Tuesday that Philadelphia will host the 2013 Division I, II and III men’s lacrosse championships and Baltimore will host the championships the following year.

The championships will be played in Baltimore on Memorial Day (May 24-26, 2014) for the sixth time since 2003. The 2011 championships will be held at M&T Bank Stadium before the they move to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., in 2012 and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in 2013.

"Philadelphia and Baltimore have first-class facilities with outstanding staffs and local organizing committees that have proven their championship hosting capabilities," said Dermot Coll, who chairs the Division I Men's Lacrosse Committee and associate director of athletics at the U.S. Air Force Academy. "The student-athletes have had great championship experiences in both places, and we expect outstanding events yet again in 2013 and 2014."

Said Ravens president Dick Cass: "This is outstanding news. We’ve worked hard to have great events like this at M&T Bank Stadium, and it was truly a team effort. The Maryland Stadium Authority, Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development and the City of Baltimore all contributed to secure this event."

The NCAA also announced that the 2011 quarterfinals games would be played at Harvard and Hofstra and the 2012 quarterfinals would be played at Navy and Drexel. The quarterfinal sites for 2013 and 2014 will be announced later.

Posted by Edward Lee at 2:26 PM | | Comments (0)
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