Sports, Spring, Column, Lacrosse

Alumni Stadium is Perfect Future Home for Lacrosse

With a 17-11 win over No. 5 North Carolina Saturday afternoon—its first against the Tar Heels since 2015—Boston College lacrosse now boasts a perfect record through 12 games. The No. 2 Eagles are off to their best start in program history, but the only Superfans that are really able to see one of the nation’s best in action without a headache live in Duchesne, Hardy-Cushing, or Keyes residence halls.

That’s right. Realistically, the only students that have the opportunity to make it to BC’s lacrosse and soccer field live on Newton Campus, the site of men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse games. Other than the 40 percent of freshmen that live there—a tenth of all students—a 15-minute bus ride is required to see top-15 point scorers Sam Apuzzo, Dempsey Arsenault, and Kaileen Hart. Frankly, this is a trip that most students would only make if they accidentally hopped on the wrong shuttle from Main Campus.

Lacrosse deserves better than this. Families, alumni, and team enthusiasts packed the Newton Campus facility stands for the team’s Red Bandana Game on Saturday, with many fans spilling out into the walkways, but even then, few upperclassmen could be found other than the ones playing in the game.

A change in scenery for the second-best team in the nation is overdue. With a new athletic director, new athletic complexes, and a team that has a great standing among the alumni, families, and youth of the community, one solution to draw student interest is apparent: a relocation to Alumni Stadium.

If you go to the 44,500-seat venue right now, you’d be confused. Currently, a ginormous $2 million bubble sits atop the playing field. From December through March, “The Bubble” hosts “indoor” practices for 11 different varsity sports on campus, but that’s all set to change.

A $200 million investment in new athletic facilities on campus will produce, among other things, a state-of-the-art athletics field house that will essentially replace the functionality of the bubble. This opens the door for Alumni to be used during the spring. In the fall, field hockey and soccer are stuck on Newton Campus as long as football reigns supreme, but lacrosse could provide students a much-needed opportunity to support their peers in maroon and gold.

Football, hockey, and basketball are the money makers for BC in the fall and winter, respectively, but in the spring, it’s hard to find a single major sport on main campus. Both baseball and softball play in Brighton, tennis is hidden in a nook behind the Plex, and believe it or not, track and field is stuck at Harvard. For this reason, lacrosse in Alumni could easily gain traction as a popular spring sport for Eagles fans.

As of now, BC is home to a lacrosse facility that its own website describes as an “intimate atmosphere for contests,” and its seating capacity can’t even be found anywhere online. The 1,521 that came to see the Eagles and Tar Heels face off on Saturday squeezed into the 10-row metal grandstand and then some, as about a third of all fans were forced to either sit on the grass or stand by the entrance. From these numbers, it can be estimated that the Newton Campus field comfortably seats just over 1,000 fans.

Compared to other top programs, this number is embarrassingly low. The current No. 1 team in the country, Stony Brook, can hold over 12,000 fans in LaValle Stadium. Among the other top-10 teams and even those that compete in the ACC, few have seating even close to as low as BC, and more importantly, none are stuck on a satellite campus. No. 5 UNC’s Fetzer field holds over 5,000 fans, and No. 8 Loyola has its own stadium with a concession area and upper and lower levels that seat 6,000. The only team with a “stadium” close to as small as the Eagles’ is Louisville, but deservedly so: The Cardinals are the newest program in the ACC, established in 2008, and have never reached the NCAA Final Four.

For players and coaches, the chance to play closer to home would also make game day preparation much less of a pain. On Newton, the Eagles and their opponents are forced to use an RV-Trailer-looking shed of about 100 square feet as a locker room. Meanwhile, the No. 6 Florida Gators have their own 12,000-square-foot locker facility that includes workout and equipment rooms.

If the sport was moved to Alumni, most players would barely have to travel to their home games at all, and minimal renovations to the locker rooms already in place would make for a much more respectable game day experience.

BC wouldn’t be the first team to use its football stadium as a lacrosse arena. Syracuse uses the Carrier Dome for both its men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, and each boasts high attendance year after year.

Although women’s sports traditionally don’t garner as much attention as men’s, that’s not an excuse for BC going forward, a school that doesn’t even have its own men’s lacrosse team. Still, first-year Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond has already instituted a variety of innovative programs across the Heights. Within his first few months at BC, Jarmond had implemented an alcohol sales policy at sporting events that was very well received throughout the fall semester. More recently, he established a new ticket program for young alumni that will allow former students to attend Eagles’ football, basketball, and men’s hockey games for cheap. It makes sense then that the guy making refreshing changes to Chestnut Hill would be the same one to pioneer an extremely valuable change in women’s sports.

Sure, the project would require an initial investment, but with a rise in attendance and the addition of concessions, the decision would pay dividends over time.

Why should the team with the most wins in all of women’s lacrosse be stuck on the worst home field? As the athletic field house nears completion, Jarmond shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to  provide what is currently his most successful program a true home-field advantage.

Featured Image by Andy Backstrom / Heights Editor

March 25, 2018