Some expected news – at least among those in the lacrosse world – this morning from Inside Lacrosse, which announced it was adding a second doubleheader next season to complement its early season Face-Off Classic.
It really couldn’t be a better set of midseason games. The so-called “Day of Rivals” includes Army-Navy and Maryland-Johns Hopkins, and will be played April 11 at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.
It’s a two-year deal for both games, and it helps bail Maryland out of a sticky situation. It’s the Terrapins’ turn to host Hopkins this year (as well as Duke and North Carolina), but Byrd Stadium will be unavailable because of luxury suite construction. There’s just no way that game could have been played at the (roughly) 4,000-seat Ludwig Field, and it’s a safe bet Terps coach Dave Cottle (he of the 2-8 career record on the road against Hopkins) wanted any part of an extra trip to Homewood Field.
As for that Duke game, it’s become part of the Feb. 28 Face-Off Classic, also at M&T Bank Stadium. Princeton-Hopkins is back as part of the doubleheader, with Syracuse-Virginia returning to campus sites this year.
It’s evident that IL is successfully making itself not just simply a magazine, but something of an activist for the growth of the sport. It’s an interesting role, and one an entity could probably only assume for a sport that is increasing in popularity but isn’t firmly established in the mainstream. That pretty much describes lacrosse perfectly.
The next step in the growth of IL’s event promotion seems pretty clear from afar. Just as the NCAA started its trend of granting final fours at pro stadiums in Baltimore and then moved on to Philadelphia and Foxboro(ugh), a true test will arrive when IL branches out into a different market.
That obviously takes some cooperation from schools, an out-of-town stadium owner and television. Granted, it’s been done on a smaller scale by the First Four in Los Angeles and last season’s doubleheader featuring Army-Rutgers and Navy-Holy Cross in Dallas.
But a regular season doubleheader in Chicago or Cincinnati or Denver that features four legitimate top-15 teams might not be that far off. It’s clearly the next logical step for the increasingly influential IL juggernaut.