June is the better time of year for a week-long lacrosse festival in the long-term, but the good news is a new and broader focus will be shined on an event that was once a highlight on the sport’s summer calendar.
Adding a youth component to the college and adult competition will bring an added component to the Ocean City Lacrosse Classic, which has for years attracted about 100 teams in a variety of age divisions for men and women. In the mid- to late-90s and early-2000s, the tournament attracted some of the best collegiate lacrosse players in the world who would often come to Ocean City for the White Marlin Open and stay through the lacrosse festival. There was high-quality lacrosse on the field on the men and women side.
Due to competition from larger tournaments elsewhere, the event has lost some luster, despite the best efforts of the individuals who have managed and organized it for many years. It’s clear some help was needed, and it appears to be on the way with some lacrosse heavyweights, Dave Cottle and Dave Pietramala namely, stepping to add some influence.
While it will be nice to have household names in the lacrosse world bolstering the weekend adult competition, the smartest move by organizers is adding a youth component during the week. It may take a few years to grow it into a large event with hundreds of youth teams, but the effort is worthwhile. With its beach and top-notch accommodations and amenities, Ocean City should easily be able to welcome the youth teams. It’s also a wonderful concept of the adult players competing on the weekends and their children hitting the fields during the week prior.
Though the event will be held in August in 2021, the week-long event needs to be find a new home in June. What week should be decided strategically around the air show weekend, existing events and when the large Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends fall each year. The town’s tourism folks are certainly capable of maximizing the timing to suit the needs of the resort business community.
Adding the newly reinvented lacrosse tournament to the existing beach sand soccer tournament, which has grown into a solid drawing event, could be the early stages of transforming June into a youth sports month. While bringing families to the area is always a positive, especially when schools are still in session, it could potentially be tremendously beneficial in pushing out the criminal elements who have found Ocean City attractive in June for the last 30 years.
As is the case with the last weekend in September when the pop-up vehicle rally has become entrenched, it’s going to take bold action to take June back from the miscreants. We must look beyond the acceptance of June crime spiking for a few weeks each year. There should be no tolerance for this sort of behavior. There is a feeling among many the town in recent years have simply become accustomed to crime spiking in June under the assumption it will quiet down around the Fourth of July weekend. It’s a bad thought process. Adding new and fresh events with the continued bolstering of police manpower could be a recipe for ridding the town of these annual crime spikes.
June is clearly the better month for the rebranded lacrosse tournament. Mid-August does not need the event and its economic impact has barely been felt for a few years because the tourism season is still in full swing. With occupancy rates at hotels around 85% in mid-August, the economic punch of the broader event should be welcomed in June.
We support the town’s three-year funding commitment to bolster and expand the lacrosse tournament — $120,000 over three years starting with $50,000 the first year. We also encourage the town to include in the Memorandum of Understanding language in the deal requiring the event to find a permanent home in the June calendar after 2021. It’s paramount the event be moved to the slower month of June.