NCAA Championship Attendance Figures Flatten
updated 05.23.2014 at 6:51 p.m.
Despite efforts by the NCAA and the Baltimore Ravens to spike ticket sales for the college men's lacrosse championship weekend, attendance figures to be flat versus last year, according to event officials.
As of Friday morning, about 70,000 tickets had been sold for the three-day event at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, which with walk-up sales would put it on pace to match last year's 79,179 in Philadelphia. It's a far cry from the record 123,225 fans that flocked to Baltimore in 2007. Attendance has declined every year since.
Ticket sales for Saturday's Division I semifinals, typically the biggest draw of the weekend, had reached 27,500 by the end of the day, said Jody Martin, marketing and ticket sales manager.
The championship weekend will return to Philadelphia in 2015 and 2016, after which the NCAA has not determined a location for lacrosse's marquee event. The NCAA has said it would consider bringing the event back to a college campus for the first time since 2002, when it was held at Rutgers, or making tickets more affordable.
The cheapest full-weekend tickets this year are $79. Parking costs an additional $55. The Ravens and NCAA opened single-game ticket sales in mid-March, about a month earlier than in previous years.
On the other hand, TV ratings on ESPN were up 27 percent in 2013 versus 2012, according to an article Friday in The Baltimore Sun.
"I'm not burying my head in the sand," Anthony Holman, the NCAA's associate director for championships and alliances, told The Sun. "We want to get more folks here. ... But you can't look at the attendance alone and say it means the championship and the sport haven't been successful."
In the same article, Steve Stenersen, the president and CEO of US Lacrosse, attributed declining attendance figures to "a little bit of a market correction."