I got a bunch of emails over the weekend and again on Monday from people opining on the lacrosse event at the football stadium over the weekend.
Some of those contributors wanted to talk about the Orioles and their insistence on playing in the afternoon opposite the two Saturday games. Others wanted to talk about the crowds. A couple wanted my opinion on why Baltimore always seems to hit a grand slam with these events when they kick-off, only to see the support and enthusiasm dwindle in follow-up years (see the July International soccer games for example).
OK, let’s get the easy one out of the way first.
Yes, the lacrosse championship-weekend was on the books for three years. That said, they’re STILL the visiting tenant. The Orioles are the landlord from April until October. Let’s remember, they play 81 dates a year in OPACY. As much as some folks want to bark about it, they deserve to be the ruling body of things that go on at the two facilities; they occupy 81 dates in their home.
Now, as it relates to the Orioles moving their game time to 12:35 pm to get a head-start on the lacrosse opener, which kicked off at 1pm: Some people were upset with that. Why? Because you couldn’t attend both events? OK, well, there were 21 of you in the city who would have done both. The rest of the community is going to say, “Hey, there’s Orioles baseball today, let’s go!” or “I’ve been waiting for this lacrosse weekend, I can’t wait to head down to the football stadium today.”
I don’t see the issue at all with the Orioles playing at 12:35 pm on Saturday.
And I don’t see the issue with lacrosse starting at 1pm. If the lacrosse officials were overly concerned with the two events clashing, they could have moved THEIR games to 3:30 and 6pm. They wouldn’t have done that, of course, because of TV, which rules everything in sports these days. Even a second tier sport like college lacrosse is married to television. Changing game times wouldn’t have worked for them, as logical as it might have been.
Instead, the two events went off within close proximity to one another and everything seemed to go well.
There were 30,000 at the lacrosse game and 36,000 at the baseball game. There’s no reason why the two events shouldn’t have gone well. Football games in town routinely see that many customers in the fall and winter.
The other white elephant in the room is this re-hashed story about the Orioles and the Ravens and last season’s kick-off game that never happened because of a scheduling conflict between the Birds-White Sox game on Thursday evening.
As a reminder to everyone, there was only ONE party responsible for that fiasco last September: The National Football League. Period. The solution was simple, just like it was in 2012. Move the game to Wednesday evening. They didn’t, and in collaboration with the Ravens, tried to paint the Orioles as the bad guy. Smart people like me didn’t buy it for a second.
Now, for those saying, “How come the Orioles and the lacrosse games on Saturday could go off without a hitch?”
Easy answer: It was a Saturday.
Had the lacrosse games been Friday at 5pm and 7:30 pm and the Orioles been scheduled for 7:05, it would have been a train wreck downtown. Could it have been pulled off? Sure. Would it have been a traffic and logistical nightmare for a few hours? Probably.
That said, none of that came into play because downtown Baltimore is a ghost town on Saturday and Sunday.
As for the attendance and the crowds of 30,000 and 25,000. I get it that people are disappointed. The stadium is less than half-full when those crowds are in the place. It looks bad. I understand. Just, please, remember this: with all due respect, and I have a lot of friends in the lacrosse community, it’s still lacrosse. To get 30,000 people to show up when there’s no “true” hometown team is fairly respectable in my opinion. I understand that Maryland was playing, but it’s not Maryland basketball we’re talking about, it’s Maryland lacrosse. Now, had Hopkins played on Saturday, there might have been 45,000 there. But there was no real hometown team in play and 30,000 showed up. I thought that was acceptable, but a lot of folks didn’t.
BTW, it should also be noted — at least to this observer — that the actual marketing done for the events over the weekend was terrible. I didn’t hear an ad anywhere on local radio. Didn’t see any “live” appearances on local TV by players, coaches, etc. I’m in the sports community and didn’t feel any pulse at all for the biggest weekend of lacrosse in our community. None.
One last thing: As for the final, 25,000 people attended a game between Notre Dame and Duke. In lacrosse. In Baltimore.
If that’s not acceptable, I don’t know what to say.