From May 23-26, college lacrosse fans will be focused on Baltimore. The Division I men's semifinals will be held at M&T Bank Stadium May 24 with the national title game being played May 26. Meanwhile, at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium, the Division I women's semifinals will be played May 23, followed by the championship May 25.
Headed to Baltimore on the men's side are the University of Denver, Duke University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Maryland. On the women's side, the four teams vying for a title are Duke, the University of North Carolina, the University of Virginia and Maryland.
No other state has played host to the men's NCAA lacrosse championships more often than Maryland, where a champion has been crowned 16 times before. The University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium in College Park, Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field and M&T Bank Stadium have all played host to the championships through the years.
This is the fourth time the state of Maryland has played host to both the men's and women's championships during the same year. It will be the second time (2010) that both Towson University and M&T Bank Stadium will host the two championships during the same weekend.
"It all starts when the NCAA issues a request for proposal, and then we fill out the paperwork and submit our bid," said Roy Sommerhof, the Baltimore Ravens' vice president of stadium operations. "The NCAA goes over all of the RFPs and puts together a list of finalists. They visit the venues and hear a much more personal presentation on what we would do if we got the bid. After the NCAA committee meets with the finalists, then they make their decision, and in this case, we were awarded the 2014 lacrosse championships."
Having some experience helps in the bidding process. The stadium has hosted the lacrosse championships five times before (2003, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011).
"The NCAA has seen the first-class job that we as a community have done in the past hosting the lacrosse championships," Sommerhof said. "We are proud of how our team, along with the host schools and the entire community, supports the NCAA men's lacrosse championship each time we have hosted it. We still hold the four-day attendance record of 123,225 fans coming to the event in 2007."
The men's and women's schedules allow fans to see all six Division I lacrosse games played in Maryland May 23-26.
"On Friday night, lacrosse fans can be out at Towson University watching the women's Final Four, and then on Saturday afternoon, they travel the 12 miles downtown to M&T Bank Stadium to see the men's Final Four," Sommerhof said. "If you're a lacrosse fan, it really can't get better than that."
Another aspect of the lacrosse weekend is the host schools. Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University, Towson and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County all play a role in the event. Representatives from the universities will help make the events go off smoothly, and they will be busy working at both M&T Bank Stadium and Towson University.
"The process of hosting the NCAA men's lacrosse championships is enjoyable," Johns Hopkins athletic director Tom Calder said. "We work closely with the Baltimore Ravens, representatives from the city of Baltimore and the other host schools. It is truly a collaborative effort to showcase a great game and the city of Baltimore to the fans who attend. Like any NCAA event, there are literally hundreds of things to do -- managing ticket operations, marketing, media relations, team services -- but the individuals working on this event are truly dedicated to making this a showcase event for the NCAA, and that has shown in each of the previous five years that we have hosted the championship."
There will be more NCAA events at M&T Bank Stadium once college football season starts. It will be the host venue for a game between Ohio State University and the U.S. Naval Academy Aug. 30, as well as Navy's game against the U.S. Military Academy Dec. 13. Maryland will play Pennsylvania State University at M&T Bank Stadium Oct. 24, 2015, and the Army-Navy matchup will return to M&T Bank Stadium Dec. 10, 2016.
"We are always very busy with the Ravens games, concerts, college sports and whatever major event makes sense for us to bring to Baltimore," Sommerhof said.