Annapolis’ biggest field and Maryland’s biggest sport, Lacrosse; will be showcased on the world’s biggest sports network for nine straight days this summer.
Major League Lacrosse
As fans across the country anxiously await the return of the “Big Four”: the MLB, the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL, Annapolis is leading the professional sports charge by hosting the twentieth season of Major League Lacrosse (MLL).
With a two-day training camp beginning on July 16th and the first faceoff set for July 18th, the full season will consist of each of the MLL’s six teams playing each other once, for a total of five games over seven days. There will be a final-four playoff on July 25th and a championship game on July 26th at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Add them all up, and the full schedule totals a whopping 18 games broadcast nationally on ESPN or ESPN Plus. Teams in the hunt for the title include the Boston Cannons, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Connecticut Hammerheads, Denver Outlaws, New York Lizards, and Philadelphia Barrage.
And while the Chesapeake Bayhawks will certainly have some level of home field advantage, the unfortunate but prudent decision to have no fans in the stadium in order to protect the health and safety of players, staff, and the public will make that less of a factor.
The Bayhawks, along with their competition; will live in a “bubble” limited to Navy Stadium and The Westin Hotel. They will follow strict daily protocols regarding COVID-19 testing, travel and practices, including plenty of mask-wearing and social distancing while at the hotel, during meals, and at the stadium.
Along with political leaders’ encouragement and hospitality, the availability of unlimited support put Annapolis at the top of the list when Major League Lacrosse decided to tackle the obstacles of this unprecedented season.
“Given the current environment; developing a comprehensive action plan to bring the MLL season to life in Annapolis has been a monumental lift and we are extraordinarily grateful to Governor Hogan (notably an MLL and Bayhawks fan), Mayor Buckley, County Executive Pittman and Executive Director of Maryland Sports, Terry Hasseltine,” said Mark Burdett, Bayhawks president, in a recent press release.
Attracting New Fans to MLL
“The partnership, availability, and strong track record of the established Bayhawks operational partners – Anne Arundel Medical Center, the Naval Academy Athletic Association, Main & Market Catering (which will provide a grand total of 2,600 meals to players and staff), Driven Transportation, and Admiral Cleaners – and the positive professional relationships shared in the Annapolis market were also major factors,” Burdett added in an email to Visit Annapolis.
“Our players are nimble and self-regulated,” explained Burdett. “Much like Olympic athletes, they get where they need to get and do what they need to do without much handholding from their team and or the league. They’re passionate guys who choose to fit lacrosse into their everyday lives because they love it and love entertaining fans.”
It’s anybody’s guess which team will win this year’s MLL title, a feat that will require winning at least seven intense games in just nine days. But, in this very unique year the most important thing isn’t necessarily winning but simply playing.
“We absolutely hope getting the season started and finished before the Big Four, plus having ESPN as our partner, will help raise awareness of the MLL and attract new fans,” said Burdett.
So good luck to all six teams headed to Annapolis; we can’t wait to welcome you to town – and watch you on TV!