Breaking: LaxCon is Gone . . . At Least in Jan 2024
FLN: Yesterday’s announcement by USA Lacrosse of a new event strategy contains in it a bombshell cancellation of the 2024 LaxCon event, that would have been likely held in Baltimore in January, as for many years, confirming off-the-record comments FLN has heard for a few weeks now.
USA Lacrosse, in an article posted yesterday on their website, noted the cancellation and left open the possibility that this is also a long-term consideration, as you will see in this press release.
Attendance has fallen in recent years and I’m confident in saying that vendor pushback for paying for the lower attendance, also put pressure on USA Lacrosse to make changes. By canceling LaxCon, there will be some new challenges for Lacrosse vendors and that spells new opportunities for outlets like FLN to benefit in helping those vendors tap into the demographic that is attractive to many.
It’s this author’s opinion that the sport has far too long held a Northeast-centric attitude towards their events, including the continued refusal to take the NCAA Final Four D1 championship outside their beloved hotbed area. Part of that decision has now come back to haunt them, as the rest of the country is feeling left out, and the decision to not attend the annual event (I have not attended since before Covid, as one example) meant a smaller and smaller pool of attendees to draw from. It’s a shame because I did like the various seminar/class breakdowns that could be attended, but frankly the location of downtown Baltimore seemed more based on convenience for USA Lacrosse than on a ‘best fit’ for growing the sport.
Hopefully, the de-regionalization of lacrosse, partly shown in the changing schedule, will lead to a realization that continuing to grow the sport will require engaging more opinions and geographical outreach. Note that the Coaching Academies are announced for Philadelphia (the same weekend that LaxCon traditionally ran), Indianapolis and Las Vegas start the trend to breaking through the Northeast-centric paradigm.
Here is the press release:
USA Lacrosse Rolling Out New Event Strategy
by USA Lacrosse Staff – 8/28/23
SPARKS, Md. —USA Lacrosse unveiled today a strategy for its events platform that will bring new opportunities to the lacrosse community throughout the entire country. The annual schedule — focused on engagement, entertainment and education — is anchored by four key events spread throughout the year, including the addition of an exciting new showcase event in the fall featuring the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams.
“We want to create memorable and lasting experiences for the lacrosse community and taking our events to new markets is a way to grow the game and make it more accessible,” said USA Lacrosse CEO Marc Riccio. “Our national teams represent the very best in the sport and this provides us the opportunity to both give them the platform they deserve while letting our USA Lacrosse members and young players get a close-up view of these elite athletes and coaches.”
The event strategy was built following extensive internal and external conversations, analyzing data and evaluating new trends coming out of the COVID pandemic. The strategy has been reshaped in a new direction to serve core constituents and fans based on market realities. Highlighting the schedule will be four signature properties — the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the USA Lacrosse Foundation Gala, the new fall showcase event featuring the national teams and National Celebrate Lacrosse Week.
- National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Traditionally held in the fall, this event will shift to January with a dedicated window to celebrate the very best in the sport. The long-term goal is to expand this celebration into an annual reunion weekend for the U.S. national team program. The coming year’s event will include an unveiling of the three most recent gold medals won by U.S. teams.
- USA Lacrosse Foundation Gala: This event has generated over $1.4 million in philanthropic support for USA Lacrosse in the past two years while honoring key figures such as Kyle Harrison, Jenny Levy, Paul Rabil, Crista Samaras and Bill Tierney. The gala, which returns to New York City on June 5, 2024, drives investment by cultivating donor support for the growth of the game.
- Fall Showcase Event: This new event will be held in October 2024 at a location to be announced soon. Along with international competition featuring the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams and festival-style youth events, the weekend will be geared towards fans. The event will provide a unique opportunity for meaningful interaction between attendees and the biggest names in the sport while they enjoy live music, food and more. The showcase will travel to different parts of the country on a rotating basis in the upcoming years.
- National Celebrate Lacrosse Week: This weeklong celebration provides opportunities for the entire lacrosse community to engage around the sport. A key component of the week is a series of free Pick Up & Play clinics held throughout the country to help introduce new players to the sport. Over the last two years, more than 5,200 players have participated and a record 80-plus clinics are slated for this year’s National Celebrate Lacrosse Week from Nov. 4-12, 2023.
As part of the new strategy, USA Lacrosse will continue its core educational mission by offering a series of academies for coaches and officials in different regions of the country. These academies will give both audiences the opportunity to learn from experts at the highest levels to better themselves and share their knowledge with their teams and leagues. The first academy will be held this fall in Indianapolis (October 7-8). Future academies are planned for Las Vegas (December 2-3) and Philadelphia (January 13-14, 2024).
As a result of this move to take USA Lacrosse directly to its members with multiple events throughout the country, the annual USA Lacrosse Convention and Fan Fest will no longer be held. Although the event has a rich history, attendance trends had shifted in recent years and this decision will ultimately benefit all members by reducing financial and travel commitments and allowing for more participation from coaches, officials and speakers in different regions.
For more information about our events or to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About USA Lacrosse
USA Lacrosse, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, is a Recognized Sports Organization of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. As the governing body of men’s and women’s lacrosse in the United States, USA Lacrosse leads the U.S. National Teams Program and establishes universal standards. With more than 400,000 members across the country, USA Lacrosse unites the community of players, coaches, officials, parents, and program leaders. Working together, we inspire participation, enrich the athlete experience, and support the growth of the sport.