April 28, 2014

Logistics Conflict Remains for Championship Weekend in Baltimore

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

Virginia celebrates after winning the 2011 national title over Maryland at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the last time the venue hosted the three-day championship weekend event. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)

The Baltimore Orioles have announced that their Saturday, May 24 home game against the Cleveland Indians has been set for a 12:35 p.m. start, which is about a half-hour from the start of the first of two NCAA Division I men's lacrosse semifinals next door at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL's Ravens.

Oriole Park and M&T share parking facilities in downtown Baltimore. An Orioles spokesperson told the Baltimore Sun on Sunday that the game couldn't be played after 4:05 p.m. because of television contract restrictions that prohibit a game during Fox's primetime window from 4-10 p.m. that day.

"Playing at 12:30 is the best option for Orioles fans to get into the ballpark," Orioles vice president of communications and marketing Greg Bader told the Sun.

Parking plans have not yet been finalized and Bader said they will be over the next couple weeks. The vice president of stadium operations for the Ravens told the Baltimore Business Journal that the Ravens have been working with private parking lot operators near the stadium to help ease any concern among fans.

Sunday's NCAA Division II and Division III men's championships, also at M&T, are at 1 and 4 p.m., respectively. The Orioles will play the Indians at 1:35 p.m. on Sunday.

The Division I men's final on Memorial Day afternoon won't be affected. The Orioles are on the road.

The next two men's championship weekends in 2015 and 2016 are set for Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Baltimore did not submit a bid for the men's or women's championships those years or 2017 and 2018, in part because of the scheduling conflict this year with the Orioles and M&T Bank Stadium.

At the same time, the NCAA said it will re-open bids for 2017 and 2018 after an evaluation of this year's event in Baltimore. Weekend attendance boomed for the first five years of the NFL stadium era to a record high of 123,225 in Baltimore in 2007, but has since dipped below 80,000 in each of the last two seasons in Philadelphia and Foxborough, Mass.

Nearly 50,000 tickets have been sold for this year's three-day event so far, the BBJ reported, and fans with tickets should expect emails from the Ravens about parking and mass transit options. Total attendance last year in Philadelphia was 79,179. Total attendance the last time Baltimore hosted, in 2011, was 98,786.

Ticket information for men's championship weekend is available here.

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