Grow The Game

Where Is The Next Great Lacrosse Mecca?

Boston Lacrosse
NELaxBlog says Boston is ALREADY a hot bed.

Editor’s Note: Chris Rosenthall takes a look at the NEXT great lacrosse hotbed.  Originally we were in for a heavyweight battle, but now we get to see a Royal Rumble.  Where Is The Next Great Lacrosse Mecca?!?!?!?!

This post was originally going to be completely different. It was going to be called “Boston vs. Denver”, and I was going to have the two cities battling it out to determine who gets to join Baltimore and Long Island (apologies to Upstate NY) as an official “Mecca of Lacrosse”.  Two cities enter, one city leaves.  Simple enough, right?

I sat down and laid out each side’s arguments like a court battle. Boston’s got the reigning MLL champs, but the Denver Outlaws drew 27,000 for their Fourth of July game. They’ve split hosting duties for the past four MLL All-Star games, so that doesn’t help much either. The Colorado Mammoth always draw huge indoor crowds, but Boston could potentially field two pro indoor teams next year, so we’re really back where we started.  Boston’s hosting the 2012 NCAA Championships, but Denver hosts the World Championships in 2014. Still not helping. Boston University’s going D1 soon, but the University of Denver went to the Final Four last year. Also, Mark Matthews did this last month:

Neither here nor there, I just wanted an excuse to show that clip. Those are grown men, Mark Matthews. How dare you, sir?  Dirty. Anyway, where was I?

Like I said, it WAS going to be Boston vs. Denver, but both cities deserved to win, so it looks like we’ve got ourselves a Mount Rushmore of great lacrosse cities.  So here’s the new, and more pressing, question: what’s the NEXT city going to be?

Note: If you guys see fit, it may be time to grant Mecca status to Philadelphia as well. They’re hosting the 2013 NCAA Championships, the Philadelphia Wings have been in the indoor game for over twenty years and they’ve got two NCAA D1 programs in the top 20. And by the way, eight of last year’s Under Armour All-Americans came from Philly. But since they have the benefit of being located halfway between the original Meccas (and mainly because it screws up my Mount Rushmore analogy), let’s challenge ourselves and dig a little deeper.

Boston Lacrosse

NELaxBlog says Boston is ALREADY a hot bed.

Photo from NELaxBlog’s article Yes, New England Is A Lacrosse Hot Bed.

Who has the soil fertile enough to create another Denver situation? Let’s take a look at three potential regions:


The immediate candidate out of the Southeast has to be Charlotte, North Carolina; I hear lacrosse is huge down there. On one hand, it has a new MLL team that’s loaded with stars, and (maybe) a new pro indoor team. On the other hand, Charlotte is hours away from the state’s big college programs, so they won’t get to capitalize on NCAA success the same way Denver has.

Charlotte does have an NFL stadium though, and that could come in handy if Inside Lacrosse is looking to host one of their big events similar to the Big City or Face-Off Classics down there. I’m looking forward to seeing the Hounds’ attendance numbers this summer, which could definitely sway the city’s chances in either direction.


There’s a lot of potential for a midwestern city to go to the next level. The NCAA quarterfinals are headed to Indianapolis in 2013, Ohio  is getting an MLL team this summer, Michigan has two new NCAA D1 programs and Wisconsin has one on the way. With nearby Brother Rice High School consistently sending players to top college programs, Detroit may be the frontrunner in the area.

Unfortunately, I hear it gets so cold in the D, so the weather could potentially hurt a midwestern city’s chances over a candidate that can play outdoors year-round.  With OSU and an MLL team on the way this summer, Columbus, Ohio seems like a stronger candidate down the road.


Since we’re talking about weather, you can never rule out a city in California. A Californian playing Division 1 lacrosse used to be a huge deal, but in 2012, seven of the preseason top ten programs have at least one on their roster. The state’s well represented in the top MCLA rankings, and (as the dozens of former NCAA stars who’ve switched coasts can attest to) the game is skyrocketing in popularity all over the place.

They haven’t had much luck with the pro game (R.I.P. San Francisco Dragons, L.A. Riptide, Anaheim Storm and San Jose Stealth), but as soon as a big name like USC goes D1, this discussion might be all over.  Or will Oregon go D1 first?  If they do, and Nike gets on board in major way, Oregon could be the new spot.


So there you have it, a few potential nominees for your consideration. Will one of these regions create the next lacrosse Mecca, or will Texas, Florida or somewhere else in the Pacific Northwest have something to say about it? It could be a while before we carve another city onto the mountain, but if you look at Denver’s timeline (Mammoth founded in 2003, Outlaws founded in 2006), it could happen more quickly than you’d think.

So where do YOU think the next Lacrosse Mecca will emerge?

For more on future D1 growth, check out the Boston University Model For D1 Growth!

Some areas that are laxing it up in a major way


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  • I’m from Philly, and I would agree that being close to hotbeds kind of means we get bypassed, same thing for Boston or any place else in the Northeast.  
    I’m going to say Texas.  Football is so big there and they are going to be attracted to the physical nature of lacrosse.  Brandon Mullins is just the beginning.  

  • Of course I’m going to be biased when I say Charlotte/ the southeast because that’s where I lived most of my life and that’s where I first began to play lacrosse. I want to say that over the past 5 or so years lacrosse has exploded exponentially in Charlotte. It went from being one of the kind of important sports to more important (at a high school level) than football at certain schools. And it seems like it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. I don’t know what it is but it seems like every kid is picking up at lacrosse stick now a days in Charlotte and it’s a great thing to see. You say we are far away from the real NCAA action that is true, but then you can say the same thing about NCAA Division 1 football and basketball. People still root for Duke and Carolina (and the small group of state fans.) Even if it doesn’t become the next Mecca, it will still be a hotspot for lacrosse.

    • As a native North Carolinian, I would have to agree with Jake.  However, I don’t believe that Charlotte is the end all for lacrosse in North Carolina.  Playing lacrosse in High School here, Charlotte teams were always outstanding like Latin, Country Day, Providence Day, Catholic etc. but the Triangle (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham) has been traditionally just as strong as Charlotte with teams such as (Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill, Durham Academy, Ravenscroft, Cardinal Gibbons, Apex, etc.).  I agree that from a professional lacrosse experience, the new teams are HUGE for the area and great growth.  But, with the Triangle having two top tier D1 schools in UNC and Duke I would say it is equally as strong.  Long story short, I believe that the Old North State as a whole deserves the South East nod, not just Charlotte.

  • In the Southeast I would say Charlotte and Atlanta are set to explode. Greenville, South Carolina is smack in between the two and is also seeing a lot of growth. I would say the I-85 corridor looks like its going to be a hot region in a few years. Charlotte is getting some pro teams and there is a lot of talent at the HS level. Furman University (in Greenville) is getting a D1 program in a few years and the MCLA National Tournament is going to be hosted in Greenville as well. High School Lax has exploded in Greenville. Limestone College is located right along the I-85 corridor which links the 3 cities so in future years they could benefit from “local” talent. Atlanta is seeing as much growth as Charlotte and Greenville and already has some nationally known schools such as Lovett and Lassiter.

    • Good call with Atlanta. It’s getting a lot bigger in Georgia; Mercer college just went D1 in Macon, and I’ve heard a lot about Liam Banks’ LB3 programs spreading the game in the south.

  • No love for Chicago? Northwestern University a perennial NCAA champion on the women’s side…New Trier High School beats teams like Brother Rice and Georgetown Prep year in and year out…Steve Brooks is one of the best midfielders in the game today….I’d guess that there are atleast 30 kids from Chicago currently playing on Division 1 teams and that number grows every year. It’s just a matter of time before a school like DePaul goes D1. I would put Chicago over Wisconsin and maybe even Detroit/Michigan. But I guess time will tell.

  • The next lacrosse mecca will be Texas for sure, and yes I might be biased because I love here, but I have some pretty valid supporting statements…

    Professional lacrosse players need to be able to play in a market that will help supplement their not so huge MLL salaries… Texas is the epicenter of all things energy related Oil, Gas, etc… there is a ton of money to be made here.

    Youth – HS aged kids have over saturated the sport of football, to the extent that there are even 4th string players that never get to play.  There are a ton of kids ready to play, they just need the avenue in which to play.

    Weather in Texas is great, all year round…  Winter lasts about two weeks, and yes there might be some rain to deal with, but generally you can play field lacrosse all 12 months.

    Texas, mainly San Antonio, TX, has been recently named the NEW military town USA…. meaning we get a ton of players from ALL OVER the US who come through San Antonio.  Many aspiring military pilots must come through Corpus Christi, TX.  Each time a laxer gets stationed in Texas they always play for a season and drop some serious LAX knowledge.  (I.E. Dan Gnazzo (Air Force))

    We have a little movement with a really cool catch phrase… The GTL Tour: Grow Texas Lacrosse!

    Chazz Woodson, professional lacrosse player who balls out of control, is sponsored by a lacrosse company based out of Texas… 1Lacrosse.

    In a HeadWrapz Head to Head contest… the Pabst Blue Ribbon Lacrosse Helmet beat the K18 lid and the Bomber lid… @PBRLAX:disqus is based out of Texas.

    Hmmm….  what else, did I mention that all the “bros” head South to Texas at some point… either to try and tackle 6th Street in Austin or go to South Padre Island for Spring Break…  Laxers like to Party… Texas KNOWS how to party!!!

    Some of these reasons are rather trivial but the main points:  Economy can sustain the sport both at the Club level and Professional level, the abundance of athletes looking for a sport to play is very high, the weather means you can comfortably play lacrosse 12 months out of the year, lacrosse players already come through Texas via the military, and Texas party’s like its a whole other country…

    On that note, if Texas were ever to secede…. it could have it’s own international lacrosse team… SWEET!

    Peace, Love, and Laxiness,


      •  Thanks Chris!  You know… when you look at the map above it is obvious where the current LAX Mecca is, but at some point people are gonna stop traveling Coast to Coast (gas prices may halt this faster), and everyone will NEED a more Central location to hold LAX tourneys.  That and people often get bored with the same ole’ tourney… Enter the Mardi Gras tourney in New Orleans, Louisiana… which is right next to TEXAS.

  • I am thinking Florida. If one of the big schools down there can get a D1 team in the nar future it could really take off. I know more and more high schools are starting to offer it and St. Andrews plays alot of good high schools around the country.

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