by David Chapman
In a deal that will highlight one of the nation’s fastest growing sports, Jacksonville will host a high-profile collegiate lacrosse doubleheader Feb. 20 at EverBank Field.
The matches will be hosted by Jacksonville University, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission and SMG in a joint venture that will feature hometown JU taking on Georgetown, followed by a repeat of last year’s national championship match of Duke and Notre Dame.
Duke defeated Notre Dame 6-5 for the 2010 title, its first in school history.
“We are excited to bring a national event of this stature to the city and expose our community to the top lacrosse programs in the country,” said Alan Verlander, JU director of athletics.
“Thanks to our partners at SMG, JEDC Sports and Entertainment and Inside Lacrosse, we’ve put together a first class event that is going to grow with our lacrosse programs in the coming years,” said Verlander.
“It’s a growing sport,” said Joel Lamp, JU associate athletic director. “Having a national event doesn’t only help us, but it also helps the city.”
For JU, which began men’s play in the spring and is the first Div. I lacrosse team in Florida, an event featuring high-profile teams will help boost the program’s visibility.
Lamp said officials hope to sell around 15,000 tickets for the matches, which he believes is possible given the national profile of the visiting teams.
Event officials will also reach out to local high school teams and members of the local lacrosse community for different lacrosse-themed activities surrounding the game, said Lamp.
“It’ll be the biggest lacrosse event ever in the state of Florida,” said Lamp.
Michael Bouda, JEDC sports and entertainment director, said hopes are that the matches will become an annual event and that by hosting it on a three-day weekend, it should allow more visitors to make the trip to town. Feb. 21 is Washington’s Birthday, a federal legal holiday.
“It’s the fastest growing sport in the nation,” said Bouda. “Those guys are some of the best athletes.”
As for potential television and sponsorship deals, Lamp said details are being worked out.
“It’s a major step for the program and I think it’s going to have a big impact on the community,” said Lamp.
More details on the event, including ticket prices, will be announced Tuesday at EverBank Field.