Lacrosse standouts seek to revive existing event, maybe add new winter tournament
(Nov. 20, 2020) New things may be on the horizon for Ocean City’s lacrosse scene, as first-class promoter Legendary Sports Group is hoping to establish a three-year agreement with the resort to amplify the sport’s presence.
Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) Chairman Steve Pastusak told Ocean City Tourism Commission members on Monday that the board had met with Legendary Sports Group Sr. Lacrosse Advisor Dave Cottle and Lacrosse Advisor Dave Pietramala.
Cottle is one of the most successful collegiate and professional lacrosse coaches in history, with four Major League Lacrosse Championships, 22 NCAA Tournament appearances and five NCAA Final Fours, while Pietramala was the former head coach at Johns Hopkins University, as well as a three-time All-American, Most Outstanding Player and a National Champion.
Cottle also helped create, alongside Greene Turtle owner Steve Pappas, the Ocean City Lacrosse Classic event.
“What they are proposing is similar to an event in Lake Placid, New York, late summer in the August range around the same time as the Ocean City lacrosse tournament,” Pastusak said.
The goal would be to create an event geared toward youth players that would extend the existing lacrosse tournament.
“Currently, our tournament is [Thursday], Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and they want to go with a [Monday], Tuesday, Wednesday … type of thing to make it a whole week,” Pastusak said.
Pastusak said Legendary Sports’ had powerful partners, such as M&D Lax, which recently ranked as the number one girls program in the country, and HoganLax, which manages 30 teams in Annapolis and Richmond, Virginia.
With HoganLax, Legendary Sports created the Naptown Challenge in Annapolis in 2016, and last year the tournament resulted in 1,070 hotel room stays and $2.4 million in economic impact in Anne Arundel County.
Pastusak said ESPN covers three of the age groups that participate in the Naptown tournament.
The new tournament would be branded as OC Lax Fest, and Legendary Sports Group hoped to have its inaugural tournament next August in conjunction with the OC Lacrosse Classic.
“When TAB talked about it, we talked about making them add a winter event, which is box lacrosse, or indoor lacrosse,” Pastusak said, which would be held in the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street.
The deal would consist of a three-year period in which the city would allot $50,000 the first year, $40,000 the second year and $30,000 of TAB funding the final year.
“While we don’t love the August date, what we did love was that it was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and it was building on an event that was already here that had actually shrunk … because of the Lake Placid event,” said Susan Jones, Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association executive director.
Jones said Cottle’s goal is to bring the event back to the glamor it once held among lacrosse players and send families to the resort.
“What we also like was that he (Cottle) did not want to use the housing group,” Jones said. “He said he would want the teams to work directly with the hotels, so that was very appealing from a hotel side.”
Legendary Sports Group also was open to alternative dates, although this coming year would have to occur in August.
“I don’t really care for the August dates,” Councilman Matt James said, preferring it to be held in June to block out unrulier guests associated with the month.
Worcester County Tourism Director Melanie Pursel said June could prove tricky, as some schools would not end for summer break until mid-month.
“Dave Cottle is tied to that [tournament] because he started it with Steve Pappas … so he’s invested in it already,” Pastusak said. “Part of it is getting that tournament to stay, and the other part of it is he feels like that week was stolen by Lake Placid….”
Jones, Pursel and Pastusak said Legendary Sports Group had seemed more than willing to work out new dates, following the initial year.
“I’m hung up on the dates,” James said. “If they can’t change it this year I would want it to be June next year, if we’re going to enter into a multi-year agreement.”
Pastusak clarified that he was only there for informational purposes, as the Tourism Advisory Board already had decided to present the request to the full mayor and City Council.