Lacrosse at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium?
Buffalo wants in on May Madness.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) has submitted a number of bids to host several high-profile NCAA events, including the Division I men's lacrosse quarterfinals at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Business First has reported.
Using member schools Niagara and Canisius as the lead, the MAAC is seeking to host the quarterfinals at Ralph Wilson, just outside Buffalo, in a window between the 2014-15 and 2017-18 academic years. It would mark the first time NCAA quarterfinals would be held in the Buffalo Niagara region.
A quarterfinal pod in Buffalo wouldn't be out of the question. Just last year, the NCAA hosted a pair of Division I men's quarterfinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the first time the games had been held off the east coast of the United States. More than 7,700 fans attended.
Orchard Park, N.Y., is in good proximity to lacrosse hotbeds in central and western New York and Canada. Buffalo's First Niagara Center hosts home games of the National Lacrosse League's Buffalo Bandits.
The NCAA has changed up the manner in which it has conducted the bid process, with a consolidated approach. The NCAA Championships and Alliances staff said last week that it had received 1,948 bids across all divisions that will eventually be awarded to more than 500 preliminary and final host sites for the 2014-15 through 2017-18 academic years.
That includes future NCAA lacrosse championship cities and sites.
While Buffalo's bid is with respect to quarterfinal sites, the format and site of future NCAA final four sites has been a hot topic, with declining attendance at college lacrosse's signature event over the last six years. A record-high for the three-day event was reached at 123,225 fans in Baltimore in 2007, but total attendance has since dipped below 80,000 in each of the last two seasons in Philadelphia and Foxborough, Mass.
NCAA associate director of championships and alliances Anthony Holman told Lacrosse Magazine in August that bid groups may notice "flexibility in the financial model that will be considered." In past bid cycles, ticket prices have been set as result of revenue guarantees by hosts to the NCAA. Ticket prices have roughly doubled in the last eight years.
The NCAA will announce finalists for predetermined preliminary and final sites on Oct. 30. All other bid awards will be announced on Dec. 11.
In addition to being the home of the NFL's Bills, Ralph Wilson Stadium hosted the NHL's first-ever Winter Classic, an outdoor game playing amidst snowflakes on New Year's Day of 2008. It featured the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.