Report: Baltimore Didn't Bid for Championship Weekend

Rob Carr

This is weird, right?

When the NCAA announced the host finalists for the 2015 through 2018 Championship Weekends, a notable city was missing: Baltimore, a five-time host of the event since 2003 -- totaling 525,437 through the gates for those Final Fours -- and a part of college lacrosse's soul. The exclusion of Baltimore from the finalists list was odd, especially considering all the chatter that was coming from The Charm City and Maryland about cementing the town as the “official or semi-permanent home” for college lacrosse's championship.

As it turns out, Baltimore didn't even bid to host for this cycle. Matt Kinnear of Inside Lacrosse has the heat:

Organizers at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore did not submit a final bid to host the NCAA men's lacrosse Championship Weekend for 2015-18, a representative for the Baltimore Ravens told Inside Lacrosse.

Ravens special events manager and special assistant to the president Lisa Dixon cited an effort to focus on the 2014 championship event, which will be held at M&T Bank Stadium, the potential for scheduling conflicts with the Baltimore Orioles, and pointed to a number of large-scale events at the stadium over the next few years. Similarly, scheduling and logistics concerns over the four-year span prevented any other venues from the state of Maryland from going forward with a final bid.

* * * * *

Terry Hasseltine, director of the Maryland Office of Sports Marketing, a public-private partnership that tries to attract sporting events to the state, said there was outreach to officials at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy to host the NCAA men's lacrosse Championship Weekend, but those proved not to work because of other events on campus or other logistical factors.

Weird, right? What's weirder is that, despite these comments, M&T Bank Stadium took the necessary steps to submit an intent to bid but never submitted a final proposal for the 2015 through 2018 events. This is a drastic change of direction, and a lot of the reasons offered for passing on submitting a final bid are kind of soft. The only thing that seems to make sense is this:

"We put a lot of time and effort into this event when it is held in Baltimore (particularly in ticket sales, marketing, advertising and operations) and we feel it’s important to see the fruits of that labor in 2014 before we consider bidding to host future championships."

If Baltimore is trying to use 2014 as a potential model for a post-2018 bid, that's an inherently reasonable approach. There's no reason to go after something if there aren't avenues in place that, at a minimum, look like success factors. That's the only rationalization that isn't built on uneven support leading to poor precedent (the logistics factors are arguably misleading, as they'll almost always been in place for Baltimore until M&T Bank Stadium becomes a second-tier venue or the Ravens or Orioles aren't neighbors).

And yet, something still feels incomplete about Baltimore's decision not to bid for any of the 2015 through 2018 Championship Weekends. Not having a Maryland site as part of a Final Four cycle is difficult to understand; that region of the country -- an important area for the game -- will need to travel for four consecutive Final Fours (not unlike Northeast fans that, for many years, didn't have a "home" host until Foxborough entered the rotation in 2008). It's just a different kind of reality to approach.

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