Philadelphia has been chosen over Baltimore to be the host of the 2005 and 2006 NCAA lacrosse final fours.
Chappy Menninger, who chairs the NCAA Lacrosse Committee that recommended Philadelphia's new Lincoln Financial Field as the new site, said he received a note yesterday from John Williams, the director of championships for the NCAA, confirming the news.
Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium was the host of the tournament last season and will be the venue for it again in May.
After shattering all tournament attendance records with 109,000 fans for the three-day event, it was thought that Baltimore was the clear favorite. But the only other city to have its bid heard, Philadelphia - with its new $520 million home for the NFL's Eagles - won out.
"When we went to Indianapolis [to hear bids], I thought Baltimore was a shoo-in for two more years," said Menninger, who is also the athletic director at Mount St. Mary's. "But when Philadelphia made its proposal, it changed the mind of many members of the committee."
Menninger said Philadelphia had a higher financial guarantee, better parking, a grass surface (M&T has artificial turf) and is in a bigger media market, all factors in the committee's decision.
Lax4Baltimore, the local organizing committee in charge of the event, was pushing the Ravens' stadium as the permanent home of the final four.
"Baltimore was the first time it's been held in a professional site, and we were thrilled by it," said Princeton coach and committee member Bill Tierney. "But if it is ever going to be in a permanent spot, you'd better have something to compare it to."
Dave Pietramala, coach of Johns Hopkins, which lost to Virginia in May's title game, had mixed feelings.
"No. 1, I'm very disappointed because I thought Baltimore has done such an unbelievable job and it's a great place because of the importance of the sport here," he said. "Now, we're going to another professional venue, which I'm sure will be first class. I'm just anxious to see if the level of support in that whole community, in terms of fans, is going to be the same."
Baltimore is expected to bid to be the host in 2007 and 2008.
"To keep it here for four years was our ultimate goal, but we'll go out there and knock 'em dead and see what Philly can do," said current tournament director Marty Schwartz. "Hopefully, we'll get them back in two years."