News is coming out that the 2018 FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championships have officially been moved from Manchester, England to Israel. This will be the first time that Israel has ever hosted a men’s lacrosse world championship, and it will also be the first time ever that the premier men’s event will be held outside of the US, Canada, England, or Australia.
(Israel has won a previous hosting bid when they won the right to host the upcoming women’s European Championships in Tel Aviv in 2019.)
A letter went out to the FIL member nations today alerting the national programs that the men’s games will now be held in Israel, and while a specific site was not named, it’s very easy to speculate that the games will be held in and around Tel Aviv. The Israel Premier Lacrosse League played their championship game at Wolfson Athletic Fields in Tel Aviv, which has 10 full grass and turf surfaces, and there are plenty of other fields, pro soccer stadiums, and field complexes that could be utilized to host games. Tel Aviv University also has over 2,000 dorm rooms to create an Olympic-like village typical for the World Games. Tel Aviv makes sense on a lot of levels.
Ashkelon, which was really the first “hotbed” of major lacrosse action in Israel, is close by and so are some of other major areas of lacrosse development in the country, so while the games might not all be in the downtown area, Tel Aviv does seem like the most likely general location within Israel and clear front runner.
All I really know for sure is that the 2018 Men’s World Lacrosse Championships will be in Israel. I don’t think all the details will be announced for another week or two at least since the info was not included in the latest announcement.
Why Leave Manchester?
I still haven’t heard any official answer to this question, but the current theory has everything to do with the lodging costs being too high. A few of the original thirty or so 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s World Cup teams have dropped out citing high cost issues. Other teams are no longer staying at the tournament team site because of costs. The direct connection to the 2018 change can be seen in an FIL letter that was sent out a few weeks ago to member nations explaining why they had not been asked for participation confirmation or payments for the 2018 men, and linking it to the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women’s World Cup “experience” and “arrangements”. It’s not a very specific linkage, but there does seem to be a definite connection between the two.
Maybe there are other reasons for the 2018 move, but I haven’t seen anything that is nearly as concrete as the above explanation. If I encounter an official explanation I will let you all know, but for now I’m just going to focus on what this could mean for the 2018 World Championships.
Are there some unanswered questions? Absolutely.
Am I worried? Nope.
The team that is running Israel Lacrosse has a ton of major event experience. They run a premier league in the country, they run a youth league, are heavily focused on youth development, AND they have also sent competitive teams to every single FIL (and European) event since their inception in 2012. The people in charge have run and managed past world lacrosse championships at other sites, in other nations, pro teams and leagues, and have always put on a remarkable show and run a buttoned up event.
This is a strong leadership group, and I actually work with two of them directly, in Scott Neiss and Howie Borkan. Both are exemplary men in our game and I’m only a little steamed that they didn’t give me a serious heads up about this news. These guys run killer events wherever they host them.
Will Costs Be Lower?
Staying anywhere for 14 days with 23 players, and a staff of 7 people can get VERY expensive, VERY quickly. At only $100 per day, for 30 people, we’re talking about $42,000. That’s bigger than many countries’ annual operating budgets, and much larger than most nations’ development budgets. At $200 a night, the price doubles to $84,000, or $2800 per person – in lodging alone. These are, quite simply, untenable numbers for the vast majority of international lacrosse programs, where many players are paying their own way to play. Coming in WAY under that $200 number (and hopefully well under the $100 number) is vital, and in Israel this seems very achievable.
How does seem achievable? Well, we found Israel’s bid for the 2019 ELF Women’s European Championships in Tel Aviv (direct access link: https://www.lacrosse.co.il/files/ec19bid.pdf) and if the women’s 2019 bid is any indication, we can reasonably expect the 2018 men’s event to deliver housing options in the $34-72 range to encourage full participation of all member nations.
For flights, it should be relatively affordable and I found plenty of flights to Tel Aviv for less than $200 from Europe, so the travel won’t be more expensive than it was going to be for Manchester. After seeing such an incredible showing in Budapest last Summer from European teams, I would expect a similar showing in Israel, especially if some of the lower lodging rates rival those of Hungary.
For teams in Asia, Australia, Africa, and North and South America, the costs for flights will still be higher, but a flight from Japan to Israel currently can be purchased for around $800, so it’s not nearly as expensive as it could be, and considerably lower lodging rates would really help with overall costs.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the most competitive room rates. If the rates are low enough, this event becomes very affordable, very quickly, and that’s great for every national team out there, and the international game on the whole.
A Couple Interesting Notes:
- As I said above, this will be the first time a country outside of the US, Canada, England, and Australia have hosted a men’s field world championships.
- Israel will also be the smallest country to ever host a field lacrosse championship, both in population and geographic size.
- There was concern that the Iroquois Nationals would not be able to get to Manchester, England, as they could not travel there in 2010. While it is still unknown if the Iroquois will be able to make the trip in 2018, Israel does not have the same precedent set that Manchester Games created in 2010, AND in a very interesting piece of news – Ido Aharoni, the Israel consul general of NYC, attended the 2015 WILC opening banquet, spoke at the event, and even sat with with Oren Lyons. So a connection may already exist there, and we may have a good chance of seeing the Iroquois able to travel and participate in the world lacrosse championships in 2018.
- This could be good for regional growth – Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey all have small but growing lacrosse programs. Could the world games provide a boost to those three nations simply because they are being played in a nearby nation? It’s absolutely possible.
- Could it go further? What about Lebanon, Jordan, and Qatar? All three nations are also starting to see movement with lacrosse. Could the games being nearby strike up more interest in the sport?
- This will DEFINITELY be good for lacrosse in Israel – it’s a sports hungry nation, and while basketball and soccer have become quite popular, Israel is unlikely to compete in either sport at the absolute highest levels. But in lacrosse, they are already competing. Imagine if Israel won a medal? Or even played for a medal? The entire nation would be interested in the sport. Heck, a FULL stadium for a couple playoff games would be pretty amazing, but 7 million people learning what lacrosse is at once isn’t too bad either.
- It’s something DIFFERENT – At some point, lacrosse was going to have to leave its comfort zone of old guard countries and embrace some newer nations in a major way. Otherwise, the game would never evolve, and it would be the same three teams winning medals forever. That is NOT compelling or fun. This location presents an opportunity to change that course and direction, and I’m excited to learn more about how it unfolds.
My feeling is that many more of the most important details will emerge soon, likely within two weeks, but the info won’t stop there. Expect a flood of information over the next couple of weeks and months as more big news comes in.
I’m curious to hear all of the details, but I’m also very confident that what Israel comes up with will work well for every national program out there. This is their chance to shine, and I simply don’t see them dropping the ball.