Sept. 2, 2009

NCAA RELEASE

INDIANAPOLIS --- The Division I Men’s Lacrosse Committee is moving game times closer to prime-time slots for the 2010 national semifinals and final in Baltimore. The change is designed to increase attendance at the event and viewership of the title game on ESPN.

The semifinal games will now face off at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 29, which will be televised on ESPN2. The championship game, set to air on ESPN, will be played at 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 31.  All games will take place at M&T Bank Stadium. In 2009, the championship was played at 1 p.m. and the semifinal games at noon and 3 p.m.  

 “In partnership with ESPN and the Baltimore Organizing Committee, the national committee is looking at taking this next step to make the championship an event that capitalizes on the location and culture of Baltimore and moves it closer to the prime time window,” said Committee Chair Tim Pavlechko, associate athletics director at Bucknell. “The men’s lacrosse community has always taken pride in exploring new opportunities. This is a chance to hopefully expand our game and do something positive not only for the event, but for the sport.”

Changing the game times will not only move the television broadcast to a window with more viewership, but will also provide an opportunity for fans attending the championships to experience more events taking place surrounding the championship. The lacrosse community traditionally uses the championship weekend – all three divisions hold their championship at the same site, on the same weekend – to reconnect. The change will also allow for more youth-centered activities during the day designed to raise interest in the game.

 “We really want to maximize that weekend, knowing that the championship games are what pull everyone together,” Pavlechko said. “I think if you look over the growth of the championship, attendance continues to set record marks. We are looking at this event as a celebration of lacrosse. It’s certainly something unique.”

With the expected boost in ticket sales from the time change, fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to lock in the best seats. Roughly 15,000 all-session tickets have already been sold to date and record crowds are anticipated. Fans looking to purchase tickets can visit www.NCAA.com/lacrosse  for more information.

Carol Stiff, ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions, said moving the game times could improve viewership.

“ESPN's commitment to growing the exposure of college lacrosse continues to be a priority. The move to a later start time on Saturday and Monday will allow for more fans to watch these talented student-athletes in action,” Stiff said. “We are thrilled to maintain our place as the home for NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship action and look forward to showcasing all 15 games, including 12 first round and quarterfinal games live on ESPNU), from the tournament across our networks in 2010.”

In other business, the committee also worked on a strategic planning process for the championship, including an increased focus on early rounds of the championship and on growing the number of schools sponsoring the sport.

“We are putting a lot of thought into how we can support the national growth of the sport,” Pavlechko said. “The number of high schools, the number of new programs, that’s the staggering part for us – to look at that and ask: ‘How can we look at opportunities to grow our game and expose people to a wonderful NCAA championship?”