Like all team sports, lacrosse was hit hard at the start of the pandemic in 2020. Total participation in the U.S., which was more than 2.1 million players in 2019, dipped to 1.88 million in 2020 then was up slightly to 1.89 million at the end of 2021, according to data from the Physical Activity Council/Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
As the country continues to rebound from COVID restrictions, team sports such as lacrosse continue to regain, and grow, their solid player base. Luckily, for lacrosse tournament owners, there are plenty of excellent venues across the country that can keep players, coaches, fans and families engaged.
“Delaware has become the crossroads of lacrosse for the Mid-Atlantic region, thanks to its many top-tier facilities,” says Ryan Wolfe, sports sales leader for Delaware Tourism. “Teams choose Delaware because of our location, short drive times, tax-free shopping and top-notch venues.”
Key facilities include the University of Delaware and Kirkwood Soccer (14 fields) in northern Delaware; the world-class DE Turf (12 fields) in central Delaware; and the brand-new Sandhill Fields (eight fields), just minutes from the beach. Some of the region’s largest lacrosse events have been played in the state, bringing in thousands of players and their families, including the 2021 Victory Event Series Fall Classic, the 2021 Adrenaline Lacrosse Gold Cup, the 2020 NXT Sports Boys’ Cup, and the 2019 3D Lacrosse FLG Fall Shootout. July 2022 will see the US Lacrosse Youth Nationals at DE Turf, with an expanded field of teams.
The Delaware Tourism Office supports event organizers by helping to source hotel room blocks, setting up site visits, suggesting vendors and much more. Players and families can enjoy the award-winning Delaware State Parks with outdoor recreational opportunities, from watersports to hiking to zip-lining and more; tax-free shopping; Delaware beaches, which are among the East Coast’s best; the Wilmington Riverfront, which is a hotspot for dining, museums and nature trails; and much more.
Erie is home to many great lacrosse venues, including the Erie Sports Center, which is the city’s largest outdoor grass facility with 10 fields, and Mercyhurst University’s three full-sized turf fields.
“Like in so many other cities, we’ve seen lacrosse take off, with growing buy-in from local groups,” says Chris Rosato Jr., the events and marketing manager for the Erie Sports Commission. “College showcases have been popular attractions in recent years, and more multi-field facilities are developing to help accommodate the growing number of teams and events in the region.”
Among the larger events held in the area are the Lax Bash Tournaments’ Gem City Lacrosse event in July, which debuted in 2020 at Erie Sports Center, bringing in around 1,000 athletes and more than 2,000 spectators. Lax Bash has also added an October tournament, as well as a college showcase to its July event. Mercyhurst University has also played host to the NCAA DII Men’s Lacrosse Tournament’s opening round for the last two years. The Sports Commission encourages site visits to see the venues, and can help with providing grant funding and marketing support.
Off the field, Erie is full of family-friendly activities, and the Erie Sports Center has recently added to the list with the opening of a Fun Center that includes go-karts, miniature golf, batting cages, a beach area, live music stage and a tiki bar for the parents.
“Lacrosse continues to grow in popularity in our region and the Gainesville Sports Commission is excited to help here in the city and in Alachua County,” says Joleen Cacciatore Miller, executive director of the Sports Commission. “Our staff has helped tournaments grow by working with the directors on the fields and getting them the additional amenities they need.”
Among the venues available are the Donald R. Dizney Stadium on the University of Florida campus, which has three lighted fields, including a championship field with seating for 1,500. Legacy Park/Hal Brady Sports Complex offers five multi-purpose fields with lights, and Jonesville Park has six multi-purpose lighted fields. Alachua County has hosted large lacrosse events such as the Sunshine State Games, University of Florida Gators women’s lacrosse and the Men’s Club Sports Lacrosse.
Alachua County is centrally located in Florida and accessible to all areas in the Southeast. The Sports Commission can help with all types of needs, including assembling bids, connecting with the community, helping to manage events, securing hotel rates, marketing and promotion, media relations, vendor/supplier referrals and much more.
Off the field, athletes and their families can explore the downtown area and enjoy many local restaurants and shops, or head to the entertainment district. “Being in central Florida, we’re surrounded by nature,” adds Cacciatore Miller.
“Lacrosse is our state’s official team sport, and you’ll find facilities all across Maryland,” says Terry Hasseltine, the executive director of Maryland Sports. In fact, the Maryland Sports website lists more than 100 venues for lacrosse, many of which have multiple fields, capable of hosting everything from amateur to professional events.
Among the larger venues is the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, just 30 minutes from Washington, DC, which has 24 fields (three synthetic turf, nine Bermuda grass and 12 bluegrass), including six with lights and a stadium with seating for 5,000. The Calvert Regional Sports Park in North East offers 19 natural grass fields and one turf field, and the Bryantown Sports Complex in Waldorf has 15 full-size grass fields.
The state has hosted the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Final Four and Championships Game/Weekend, alternating between Towson University in Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore City. This summer, the World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship, bringing in players from across the globe, will be played at Unitas Stadium at Towson University, with play-in round competition held at fields across Baltimore County.
Dozens of tournaments and games are played year-round in the state and hosted by Maryland Sports’ partners, including the Next Lacrosse HBCU Classic, which focuses on growing the sport at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in and around Maryland.
The Olympia region offers a variety of fields for lacrosse, with the most popular the Lacey-Thurston County Regional Athletic Complex (RAC), which features six fields, including one with all-weather turf and lighting. Middle school and high school boys and girls are the largest user groups at the RAC, with several regional tournaments held each year.
“Typically, we’ll run an economic impact report for the event to determine what kind of support we are able to offer,” says Jeff Bowe, V.P. of sales and development for Experience Olympia & Beyond. “Sometimes that takes the form of a sponsorship for the event, or we may cover some fixed costs, such as field rental fees, to help get it established for the organizer. We’ve also provided hotel rooms for staff and hospitality services for staff, volunteers, coaches and athletes.”
For those looking to get out and explore, the Olympia region boasts natural beauty from waterfront boardwalks to hiking trails within miles of the RAC. There are plenty of restaurants nearby. For younger kids, the Hands On Children’s Museum, the largest of its kind in the state, will keep them busy for hours.
“We give event organizers our full attention and fill the gaps so that their event will be successful,” says Bowe. “If their participants and spectators leave happy, everyone wins.”
Panama City Beach, Florida
Among the facilities available for lacrosse in Panama City Beach is the 100-plus acre Publix Sports Park, with nine Astroturf and four grass fields, with LED lighting. The complex offers flexible field layouts and a championship field with seating and a press box. There’s also Frank Brown Park, with three full-size grass fields, adjacent to a 22-acre festival site.
Southern Edge Lacrosse has held several events in PCB, with 45 to 65 teams, and 1,500 spectators. Also, 30A Lacrosse has run multiple events with up to 50 teams and 1,400 visitors. “Established events continue to grow and several larger events are planned for 2023,” says Chris O’Brien of Visit Panama City Beach. “Our layout also allows for lacrosse to take place the same weekends as baseball or softball events.” The CVB can assist with hotel contacts and leads, press releases, media coverage and more, and there are also grant opportunities.
Panama City Beach is a destination built for tourism, so there are a lot of fun activities, 27 miles of white-sand beaches, and a hundred beach access points. Off the field, in addition to watersports and the beach, there are multiple arcades, entertainment areas, golf, world-class fishing, two state parks and more. PCB also has accommodations and restaurants to fit all tastes and budgets.
Round Rock, Texas
The main facility in the “Sports Capital of Texas” is the 10-field Round Rock Multipurpose Complex, which can host events of various sizes for athletes of all ages. The Complex offers four natural grass multi-purpose fields, a natural grass championship field, four synthetic turf multi-purpose fields and a synthetic turf championship field, with sports lighting by Musco. There’s plenty of parking, a restroom/concessions building, stadium seating, spectator amenities, playgrounds, and more.
This past spring, the Complex hosted the 2022 WCLA Championships, with 31 teams and about 930 athletes, and the MCLA Championships, with 32 teams and more than 1,120 athletes, in addition to bringing in spectators from across the country.
“We have industry experts who help make lacrosse tournament planning a breeze,” says Nancy Yawn, the director of Round Rock’s CVB. “The CVB and Sports Management and Tourism team offer various complimentary services like itinerary development, lodging support and event planning assistance.”
Among the satisfied customers is Kim Rogers, former director of USA Lacrosse. “We chose the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex because it exceeds both our quality and quantity expectations,” Rogers says. “Collegiate level play requires first-rate field conditions and larger field dimensions than most venues can accommodate. Plus, having enough fields for all games, practice areas and a championship setting in one location is a win for us overall. After meeting with the CVB and operations staff, we knew this was where we wanted to bring the WCLA National Tournament.”
“Lacrosse has been a growing sport in Snohomish County since 2005,” says Tammy Dunn, executive director of the Snohomish County Sports Commission. “Each year, more lacrosse clubs are starting up. For example, Lake Stevens Lacrosse Club was established in 2018, and by 2020, had over 80 players and the opportunity to field boys’ teams across all age levels.”
The area has a number of venues available. For example, Harvey Fields, owned and operated by Snohomish Airport, has grass fields that can be lined for six lacrosse fields; the Meadowdale Athletic Complex in Lynnwood, offers two lighted turf fields, restrooms, concessions and more; Kasch Park, owned by Everett Parks & Rec, has three lighted turf fields, restrooms, parking and playground area; Lake Tye Park, with Monroe Parks & Rec, is being renovated from grass to lighted, all-weather turf fields; and Carousel Ranch Community Park, part of the Snohomish County Parks & Rec system, is a new park that will have four turf fields with lights and is expected to open by early 2024.
Among events, the annual Harvey Cup for boys brings about 50 teams to Harvey Fields for the three-day event. The same site also hosts the girls’ Cascade Cup, which attracts at least 30 teams from the West Coast, along with college coaches. The Sports Commission can help event owners and directors in a number of ways to bring successful events to Snohomish County. SDM