This question again?
Yes, this question again.
After spending two years in Chester at then-named PPL Park, the ACC decided to move the league’s men’s lacrosse championship to Kennesaw State University in Georgia.
It was a good experience, but the attendance and mother nature played a big role in the title game between Syracuse and Duke. A lightning delay of about three hours made the grass field at KSU unplayable, which forced the teams to play the remaining minutes on an artificial turf field. It also left viewers at home who had no clue about Periscope or Facebook Live left out and relying on other ways to find out who won.
A development came earlier today, thanks to Lindsay Kramer of Syracuse.com.
While it's tough to hold the school accountable for Mother Nature, poor attendance for the final — listed at 3,206 — was a concern.
But before the five coaches could even voice their opinions on Tuesday, they were told that the facility is booked for another event on the weekend of the ACC championship and therefore is not an option even if the coaches wanted to go back.
"For sure we're not there,'' said new Virginia coach Lars Tiffany.
So we’re definitely not back in Georgia next year. Would they have preferred to stay at KSU for 2017 if it were available is unknown.
The coaches then discussed returning to rotating on-campus sites.
Tiffany, a native of LaFayette, said the coaches then decided to return to a rotation of on-campus sites. In that scenario, Duke would pick up as host for 2017 and the 2018 host would be determined from there.
It seems like this might be the choice for the ACC (and possibly the same for the NCAA, but that’s for another time).
But hold the phone from the ACC today:
Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year. All locations will be announced in the future from the conference office
So we can definitely scratch Charlotte out of hosting the tournament.
But as Kramer wrote, the coaches’ plan for Duke to host in 2017 is okay for now. Which could be very interesting, given that Duke and UNC are both in the state of North Carolina. Could that affect their plan? As of now, it doesn’t look like it.
What about the atmosphere?
"My opinion is I like the idea of going back to the on-campus venues,'' Tiffany said. "I'm excited about going some place where you do have access to the student body and you do have access to the ACC community. To me, it's not about the number (of fans). You can have 4,000 people and have atmosphere.''
But will the ACC community, specifically the students, respond well? Depends on their interest in lacrosse and if the team that’s hosting is playing.
It’s worked before, with Duke’s Koskinen Stadium, Virginia’s Klöckner Stadium, and UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium being able to host the tourney on a rotating basis, along with Maryland at Maryland (Byrd) Stadium.
But we’re now adding Notre Dame and Syracuse to the mix. Notre Dame’s Arlotta Stadium is a beautiful place to play, but it can only seat about 2,500 in the grandstands. Alumni Stadium, Notre Dame’s soccer venue, hosts about the same. So could there be a possible ACC Tournament at Notre Dame Stadium? That would be lit. Rudy would be proud.
And we know Syracuse will certainly be able to host. The Carrier Dome can easily fit ACC crowds. There’s only one problem with Cuse hosting. Their annual Mayfest concert is usually held during the Friday of the ACC Semifinals, with a headline concert being held inside the Dome. There’s a problem right there, one that probably could get fixed by University officials.
So it appears like with a few fixes to make sure every school can host once every five years, it should work. It will be interesting to see if the coaches’ proposed plan to have Duke host in 2017 will cause problems with the ACC and the HB2 law.
UPDATE: I guess it won’t cause problems at all.
But there’s one more option that I haven’t talked about. I’ll give you a hint: the stadium is pictured at the top of the article.
You guessed it, CHESTER.
It’s part of the Greater Philadelphia area, and four of the five teams are able to get there via bus (Notre Dame is the only exception, being over 400 miles from South Bend to Chester). It’s a neutral site with no ACC schools nearby, but it’s in a lacrosse hotbed.
The last time Talen Energy Stadium hosted the ACC Championship, Syracuse edged Duke. 7,348 spectators came out to watch that game, over double that of last year’s attendance. The people like it!
Similar to Kennesaw, which is near Atlanta, there are plenty of touristy things to do in Philadelphia. Eat a crappy cheesesteak (Geno’s or Pat’s; I love Steve’s and it’s not a tourist place), run the Rocky steps, visit Independence Mall, eat at Reading Terminal Market, learn about how Philly fans threw snowballs at Santa, WAWA! Unlike the campus sites, the players can enjoy being at the host city and do things, if their coaches allow them to do that.
ED NOTE: If you hate Steve’s, @ me and I will destroy you.
I thought Chester was a huge success when they hosted in ‘14 and ‘15, although attendance was reportedly a problem (look what happened). And with the uptick in attendance at Championship Weekend last year, which was held in Philly, it seems like a logical choice to go there.
Being from the area, I think the lacrosse community in Philly can make the weekend even better for youth and high school players. During the day of the ACC Showcase game between Virginia and Penn in 2015, there were a couple of youth club teams playing on the Philadelphia Union practice fields and at least one high school game featuring New Jersey teams playing inside the stadium.
Along with the showcase game, there could be a few high school games featuring the top teams from the area (including La Salle playing St. Joe’s Prep, which has been played during ACC weekend the past two seasons). Each team that participates would get free or discounted tickets for either the showcase game or the championship game the following day.
In my opinion, bringing the ACC Men’s Lacrosse Tournament back to Chester, Pennsylvania and to Talen Energy Stadium seems to be the best option that the ACC has available. Not only will it benefit the teams participating, but it would also benefit the future of the sport, as well as fans of lacrosse, the Philadelphia Union, and most of all, the ACC.