When trying to say what the top college lacrosse venues are in any category, you automatically know some people will hate your list. It’s one of the few guarantees in life. When I was asked to consider the top-five venues in lacrosse, the logical first question was what the criteria would be.
So with that in mind, I decided rather than just saying, “this is the best venue ever” and making everyone shrug off the list, I felt it would be more fun to list the best venue in each of five categories. To determine the categories, I had to think about the things I like about the different venues I have either been to or seen.
Also, this list is limited to regular season DI men’s facilities. Are there great venues for women’s lacrosse? Absolutely! That could and should be a list on its own. The same applies to DII, DIII, MCLA, NAIA, professional, and every level of box as well. There are also venues that have just hosted playoff games. For the core of this list, I wanted to focus on the primary college lacrosse venues for various men’s DI teams.
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TOP FIVE COLLEGE LACROSSE VENUES
The categories I decided to go off of are for big-game venues, historic venues, lacrosse-specific venues, watching from a picnic blanket venues, and best shared-use venue.
Best Big-Games Venues
Carrier Dome (Syracuse)
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Navy)
James M. Shuart Stadium (Hofstra)
This may be the toughest college lacrosse venue to figure out. All three of these places have seen electric regular-season games for their home teams and also major postseason events. But if we’re talking big games, I think Shuart automatically gets bumped to third. That’s not to say it can’t do a great job packing that place, but the environment when the other two are at their best is tough to beat.
Now comes the tough one. I think choosing between Annapolis and Syracuse is a classic Maryland versus New York argument. However, on capacity alone, Navy-Marine Corps comes in second due to a cap of 34,000 fans. With that, its all-time record was 18,894 against Johns Hopkins back in 2004.
What this means is that by process of elimination, I’m going with the Dome for the best big-game venue. There are actually two reasons for this. One is that the Orange regularly lead the country in attendance. Although that has dropped off recently, when they are packing the house, they’re packing the house better than anyone. Aside from postseason games, the regular season record for the Dome is 18,458 against Hobart in 1990, but they bumped things up to 20,007 in 1988 for an NCAA Tournament game against Cornell. But what separates the Dome from other venues is the closed roof to really amplify the volume when the crowd get loud.
winner: Carrier Dome (Syracuse)
Best Venues with History
Homewood Field (Johns Hopkins)
Michie Stadium (Army West Point)
Garber Field (UMass)
This might be the most divisive category of them all, but I think it kind of speaks for itself. In terms of just regular history, it’s hard to argue with Michie. Going to West Point feels exactly like you would think a historic military academy would. It’s an intimidating place right along the river where you know you’re about to face a team that will never give up until the final whistle is blown.
Next, I’ll have to go with another hostile environment in Zoomass AKA Garber Field. While UMass has never won an NCAA title, it’s been a great team for decades and has a very unwelcoming home field. If you want details, just find a Syracuse player from the 90s and ask them about the student section at Garber.
But for the overall title here, I have to go with Homewood. The home field for Johns Hopkins has been hosting games for more than a century and has been the center of lacrosse in Baltimore the whole way. While the record of Johns Hopkins itself can support this college lacrosse venue place being historic, when you start adding in international and professional events, it’s hard to argue for anything else.
winner: Homewood Field (Johns Hopkins)
Arlotta Stadium (Notre Dame)
Panzer Stadium (Penn State)
Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium (Denver)
Proving to be quite the contrast to Homewood, these stadiums are a newer trend in college sports. During the athletic department arms race of late, there have been opportunities to build a home for specific sports. These three are among the best college lacrosse venues to be done yet.
The newest and smallest in the group is Panzer Stadium. With a capacity of just 1,300 fans, it won’t break any national attendance records, but as the Nittany Lions have become a title contender, they can also boast a healthy student section at their games to make it a rowdy place to visit.
Choosing between Denver and Notre Dame is a tough one, though. Peter Barton takes the cake as being the first stadium of its kind, but Arlotta is just more than a decade old and has a slightly-higher capacity. Both are great home venues for the regular season and have also hosted NCAA early round games.
For the purposes of making an actual decision here, I’m going with the lacrosse capital of the West: Denver.
winner: Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium (Denver)
Watching from a Picnic Blanket
Klöckner Stadium (Virginia)
Arlotta Stadium (Notre Dame)
John Fallon Field (Albany)
Let’s be honest here: if you’re reading this, chances are pretty high that you’re a lacrosse fan, and most lacrosse fans can agree that there are few things better as a fan than sitting outside on a gorgeous spring day and watching a game. Adding to that feeling are the venues where you can pull up your own chair (or blanket) and watch from the comfort of a nearby hill. With that in my mind, the best options for that feeling are these three.
This past season saw attendance reduced or eliminated due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Albany fans were sill able to pull up their cars and be alongside the field in a pseudo in-game tailgate to watch the Danes.
The next two options for me were almost a tie. Arlotta’s the college lacrosse venue that I felt was appropriate to be in the top three in two different categories. It’s truly a great place to catch a game. But, if I had my choice, I’m rolling out the stadium blanket down in Charlottesville at Klöckner Stadium.
winner: Klöckner Stadium (Virginia)
Best Shared-Use Venue
Chapey Field at Anderson Stadium (Providence)
Dorrance Field (North Carolina)
Ridley Athletic Complex (Loyola)
While I do love the trend of making lacrosse-only facilities, it’s still not a reality for a number schools. Of course, money plays a factor, but also space and practicality need to be considered. The three stadiums listed are all shared with the schools’ soccer teams as well. This relationships makes a ton of sense, because these sports are typically played in different seasons, so the overlap is easier to deal with.
North Carolina had an issue with this in 2020, because the seasons were overlapping, forcing the Tar Heels to play in the larger football stadium. For that, combined with the sheer newness of the facility, I can’t quite award Dorrance Field this title yet, but it’s more than worthy to be in the running!
Chapey Field in Providence was very much built with lacrosse in mind and was fully intended to be ready to host the Big East Tournament as often as possible. While there have been some big games there and the Friars are knocking on the door of being a perennial Big East contender, there is still some work to be done to bump the venue to the top of the list.
The peak of this category for me has to be Ridley. Loyola has only been there for about a decade, but it’s been a big decade. The Greyhounds are Patriot League contenders every year, and they earned the title of national champion while calling Ridley home.
Winner: Ridley Athletic Complex (Loyola)
If you’re interested in reading more about iconic college lacrosse venues, we got you covered: