February 15, 2011

Hopkins Announces Plans to Construct Lacrosse-Only Facility

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff


A rendering of the planned Cordish Lacrosse Center, from the vantage point of Schelle Pavilion at Johns Hopkins University's Homewood Field. Additional renderings below.

BALTIMORE, Md. --  Homewood Field, an icon in the history of college lacrosse, will have a new neighbor to its south in the form of a $10 million, 14,000 square-foot lacrosse-only facility for the Johns Hopkins men's and women's lacrosse programs, the university announced at a press conference Tuesday.

The Cordish Lacrosse Center will include locker rooms for both the Blue Jays' men's and women's lacrosse teams, office space overlooking Homewood Field for both coaching staffs, a 50-person theatre, a conference room, an academic and center and a training room -- all exclusively for lacrosse -- plus space for receptions and a mini-museum. Hopkins will break ground on the facility in June, with plans to complete the project by early 2012.

"Homewood Field has become known as the Yankee Stadium of lacrosse," said university president Ronald J. Daniels, "but even the Yankees had to upgrade their facilities."

The last major renovation of Homewood Field was in 2005, when the university replaced its Astroturf with a synthetic field turf. Prior to that, in conjunction with the 1998 world lacrosse championships, the completion of Schelle Pavilion added seating for 4,900 more fans to up its official capacity to 8,500. The original grass surface was uprooted in 1982.

The Cordish Lacrosse Center will be located just beyond the south endzone of Homewood Field and will feature a field-level entry for the teams.

Daniels became the university's 14th president in March 2009. Shortly thereafter, at an alumni dinner hosted by 1960 Hopkins graduate and three-year lacrosse letterman David Cordish, he said he became convinced that "as good as we were and as proud of our history as we were, it was time to renew the facilities."

Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala and women's lacrosse coach Janine Tucker both said they expect the new building to provide their programs a boost in recruiting.

"President Daniels talked about the dinner at the Cordish house. Little did he know that was a very well-planned dinner," Pietramala quipped at the press conference Tuesday.

Tongue planted firmly in cheek, Daniels replied, "Say it isn't so."

Of his interaction with Daniels that night, Pietramala said, "He pulled me aside and said, 'Listen, I understand you're trying to get a building built. I promise you we'll get it done.'"

Pietramala then thanked Cordish, the lead donor in the project, as well as Joe Cowan, Dennis Towsend, David Townsend and Ralph O'Connor for their support. The Cordish Lacrosse Center will be funded entirely by private donations.

Tucker one-upped Pietramala with hugs for Daniels and each of the donors present at the press conference.

"Isn't this fantastic?" she said with almost surprising enthusiasm, even for the occasion. "Everybody's so calm. I'm freaking out right now."

"This is an extraordinary event for our sport, for women's sport and for our program," Tucker added. "We're going to take care of this commitment... We will not let you down."

The Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse program dates to 1883. The Blue Jays have produced 44 national championships, nine NCAA titles and 179 first team All-Americans. Hopkins' streak of 39 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances is the longest active streak in any Division I team sport.

That streak was imperiled last year by the Blue Jays' worst season in four decades. Hopkins barely qualified for the NCAA tournament, its first-round loss to eventual national champion Duke ensuring the Jays of their first losing season since 1971.

"The landscape of college lacrosse has changed dramatically over the last 10 years," Pietramala said. "Whether it's recruiting, facilities, salaries, expectations, television exposure -- the game has changed. It is becoming more and more like basketball. For many years we did rely on our tradition. Thankfully, we can continue to rely on that, as well as some additional facilities... This is going to change the recruiting, alumni, fan and student-athlete experience here at Johns Hopkins."

The Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse program debuted shortly after women were first admitted to the school in the 1970s. The Blue Jays have qualified for 12 NCAA tournaments, including three since 1999, when the program was elevated from Division III to Division I under Tucker's oversight.

"We are trying to build our tradition," she said.

The university has billed the Cordish Lacrosse Center as the first of its kind constructed solely for men's and women's lacrosse programs.

"This building, for what we're going to do, is going to set precedence in the sport of lacrosse," said athletic director Tom Calder.

There will be a ceremonial groundbreaking at halftime of the Hopkins-Navy men's lacrosse game Saturday, April 23.

A rendering of the planned Cordish Lacrosse Center, from field level at Homewood Field.
A rendering of the planned indoor reception area and outdoor patio overlooking Homewood Field as part of the new Cordish Lacrosse Center.

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