Lower-than-anticipated attendance doesn't fluster Face-Off Classic organizer
The announced attendance of 17,057 at the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Saturday was the second-smallest crowd to watch the event since its debut in 2007.
It was also the smallest crowd to attend the Face-Off Classic since it began offering three contests in 2010. Inside Lacrosse, which organizes the event, has already locked in a date and teams for next year’s Face-Off Classic, but what about 2013?
Andy Bilello, director of business development for Inside Lacrosse, said that for now, the company is committed to another installment two years from now.
“It doesn’t make me question whether we should do the Face-Off Classic in 2013,” he said during the third contest between No. 14 Johns Hopkins and UMBC. “It makes me pause to consider how we should do it. Are there things we can improve about the event, how we promote it, how we present it to fans?”
Next year’s Face-Off Classic is already scheduled for March 10 and pits Cornell against Virginia and Princeton against North Carolina. The addition of a third game is still up in the air, Bilello said.
“We didn’t lock in on it [a third game],” he said on Thursday. “Adding third games, while we started doing it, there’s also some other scheduling issues with TV. It’s helpful to get a handle on that first, which we probably won’t until the summer months, before we make that commitment.”
If a third contest is added, it would seem that an area team should be included, but Bilello said he’s not wedded to that idea.
“That’s a matter of opinion, and we’re going to have to hash that out,” he said. “… It’s just that two of the top teams consistently at the top of the rankings are two local teams in Johns Hopkins and Maryland that can provide a draw. But that is certainly something that we have to figure out. I would say that it’s part of the discussion, but it’s not something that we have decided is a must.”
Inside Lacrosse has found success with its Big City Classic at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. And with lacrosse growing in communities like the New England area, Denver, Florida and Texas, could moving the Face-Off Classic from Baltimore be an option.
Not yet, according to Bilello.
“I would say on a very basic level that it’s come up in some of our planning, but we’ve never pursued it because Baltimore has kind of proven itself as a place that we believe is most likely support this, especially this early in the season,” he said. “If you go up north, the weather becomes even more of a concern. It’s a roll of the dice a bit in the Baltimore market, too, but you have even less confidence in getting a good day going north. And there are just not many markets that give you the feeling that you can get the right number of people so that all the different pieces are viable. To date, Baltimore has done really well for us, and we’re happy to keep it here, and we don’t see any immediate reason why that should change. But you never know. But right now, it’s been good to us.”