A quick re-visit of the lacrosse weekend in Baltimore

May 28, 2014 | Drew Forrester

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.

5 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    Plus it’s Memorial Day weekend & people are at O.C. or camping out west. I think 25,000 is a very respectable turn out for 2 non local teams, but sometimes people will just bitch !!!

  2. Jason Manelli Says:

    Gotta agree with you Drew on the marketing aspect especially. I was at the O’s game on Friday night, and parked on the C lot between the two stadiums. You could see the STX truck, some pop up tents, etc had been set up at the M&T end of Ravens Walk – but there was no effort to market to the thousands of fans attending the O’s game. The lack of PR and guerrilla style engagement in and around the event gave off the impression that LAX remains a cloistered sport not open to outsiders.

  3. Chris Says:

    I think 30,000 is a respectable number for the semis along with 36,000 for the O’s game. The marketing for the tournament was definitely piss poor and could’ve been better. Overall though, that was a pretty good turnout for both teams on a holiday weekend when half the city is at the beach. Finally, the orioles should absolutely have control of their dates, especially when it comes against a niche sport like lacrosse.

  4. John In Westminster Says:

    The NCAA Lacrosse Championship experience was a downer when compared with previous years for sure. Technically, the Orioles are not at fault. However, I believe the whole day on Saturday could have been better had the Orioles kept the game at 7pm for a few reasons. It would have allowed tailgaters to be right next to all the vendors and exhibits in the North side of the stadium as in years past. Also, there were several thousand people from out of town who were staying for the weekend. I wouldn’t have been surprised if several hundred would have loved to take in a baseball game at Camden Yards that evening.

    The Orioles and the NCAA working together better would have helped, but in general, it appears the lacrosse championships are losing their luster. I agree on your points about marketing. In addition, Memorial Day weekend is always tough because its usually a time when the average lacrosse family gets a break as its a free weekend between Spring and Summer lacrosse. Then there were the ticket and parking prices as it was apparent the price of business has gone up. I’d say I payed 60% more than the last time we hosted the semis here for the family.

  5. BmoreB Says:

    Not sure why or where last season’s Ravens opener came up again but since you brought it up, you’re wrong. The Orioles could have accommodated and there were a couple of different ways to do so. They chose not to, plain and simple. It was an opportunity to gain back some that only bleed purple now due to how the O’s have been run for the past 13-14 years, myself included.

    With all that said I actually think we made out as we were not embarrassed at home on national TV. It would have been nice to bask in the glory though leading up to the game and the 1st quarter where the Ravens actually looked like a SB team.

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