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Friday, April 30, 2010

Big Plans This Weekend

Valley has the whole weekend off. That gives the players, the other coaches, and myself time to take care of other things this weekend.
I plan to hit the summer league planning pretty hardcore Sunday. Right now I am working on getting the costs, sponsor, and jersey stuff nailed down. I have estimates from two suppliers and have been contacted about two potential sponsors. Based on what I have seen so far, we are still looking at around $30 for reversibles/dues. Sponsored teams will be named as such everywhere. If you are interested in sponsoring a team, contact me ASAP.
I also plan to get the sign up sheets prepared and out to my committee for review. The final versions will not be ready until I get the cost information nailed down. I will probably draft a couple of sample schedules using three and four teams to get an idea of how many games everybody is looking at. I am firmly committed to a scheduled and structured summer league this year. It worked well with Box despite the crappy weather all weekend.
If time allows, I may start getting the youth program information together as well.
In addition to that, I will be attending my first indoor rodeo tomorrow night. My wife and her best friend decided that we needed to do something new every month this year. This month is the PBR...
Maybe, if I am lucky and can make the time, I will get to go see this.
I have some other personal business tomorrow, but those of you that will be free should read below:
Saturday Scrimmage at Drake Stadium
The Bulldogs are hosting a full pad, regular contact scrimmage tomorrow (5/1) at noon. It is open to adult players in the area and there is no charge to attend. The kicker is that the game will be historic Drake Stadium. Contact Ben Shoff for more information.

MLL's New Deal: Good Idea... In Theory

After announcing a weak ESPN schedule on April 12th, Major League Lacrosse decided to add more televised games this season. On the heels of the paltry 3 regular season games, all star game, 1 playoff game, and the championship on ESPN2, MLL announced a second television deal for an additional 33 regular season games and the other playoff game. That means that all 40 (36/1/3) games will be televised for the first time ever.

Unfortunately, nobody in the Des Moines area will able to watch anything beyond the original six games on ESPN2. In fact, I am not sure how many people across the country will be able to watch the games. According to one Lizards player, Universal Sports in not available on any of the local cable systems. On the network's website, I checked for Mediacom, Direct TV, and Dish Network and got the same message every time, "Unfortunately, Universal Sports is not available through ___!" But Wikipedia says it is available in Omaha.

Hopefully the deal extends beyond this season. Universal Sports is an infant in the TV world (been around two years) but is backed by NBC Universal. The network is jointly owned by Comcast and GE. Why the new sports channel was chosen over Versus is beyond me.

All of the games not aired on ESPN2 are available online at ESPN3. The full schedules are available via the linked articles above.

ESPN2 Schedule (Des Moines time):

Saturday, May 22 - Chesapeake at Toronto -1 pm

Saturday, June 12 - Denver at Boston - 2 pm

Saturday, July 3 - Chicago at Long Island - 2 pm

Thursday, July 8 - MLL All-Star Game - 6 pm

Saturday, August 21 - Semifinal #1 - 11 am

Sunday, August 22 - Championship -Noon

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Would Buy an MLL Franchise...

II. Stadium
Now that I have a team, they are going to need a home. The ideal location would have adequate seating, but not be too large. The viewing angles and proximity to the field of play should be optimized for lacrosse. There will need to be ample parking and a full range of concessions - including beer and light alcohol sales.
In the final entry of the Expansion series, I mentioned three potential venues for a Des Moines MLL franchise. Given that pretty much every other option in the metro is a high school stadium and therefore unable to meet the concession requirement, I remain convinced that Drake and Cownie are the best immediate options. Both have positive and negative aspects.
Cownie Stadium is nearly suburban in its location, despite being within city limits. It is only minutes removed from downtown and the I-235 freeway, just off of Southeast 14th street. It is not far from the Highway 5/65 bypass. Basically it is a short drive from Altoona, Indianola, and West Des Moines.
However, the seating capacity is extremely limited to around 2,000, which might not be too bad in the first couple of years as the team builds it fanbase. Still, the venue looks quite amateur and may be worse (in terms of television presentation) than a high school stadium. The train tracks bisecting the entrance are problematic, but the youth soccer fields surrounding the stadium may be beneficial for future growth. Of course the whole floodplain issue cannot be ignored.
Alcohol and beer are not currently available at the stadium - at least not that I am aware of - but as city land, getting an alcohol permit is possible. The fact that the concession stand and restrooms are currently outside of the stadium is a major issue which would require new construction, pathways, or extra security. All of which are less than ideal for what should ultimately be a temporary venue.
So that leaves Drake Stadium. Situated on the north side of campus, Drake Stadium is not too far from I-235 and is pretty close to the literal center of the metro. Parking is fairly accessible and adequate. The seating is traditional and should offer decent viewing angles for lax. However, very little is available as an actual seat. Most of the seating is available as benches. There is a definite overabundance of seating at 14,557.
The large blue track is a concern to me as well; it is very distracting and could take away from the game. The southern portion of the horseshoe style seating could also prove to be problematic as it sits behind the goal. Although the extreme distance should limit spectator injuries from errants shots, it also prevents suitable viewing.
Right now beer and alcohol are not sold at the stadium during Bulldogs' events. This is not uncommon in many areas and can often be rectified for professional athletic tenants. It may require a beer garden or designated consumption area. Although that would not be ideal, having alcohol available somewhere within the stadium seems to be very important with professional athletics.
Build It?
While playing in Drake for the first year or two, I would move forward with construction of a new stadium built specifically for the MLL team. Well, ok, the Des Moines Menace would also be tenants.
My first thought was going forward with the Liberty Bank Stadium designs. But to be honest, I really do not recall very many specifics other than the seating capacities. On opening day, LBS was scheduled to have 6,000 seats - actual seats not bleachers. Eventually the stadium would expand to 17,000 seats over two growth phases. The original design incorporates luxury boxes and the expanded capacity increases them. While 6,000 is not a bad number to start with - and would accommodate the fans in most MLL cities - it is less than quite a few high school football stadiums in the metro. Still, the design seems flexible enough that it should work.
At that size, the stadium would be comparable to Morrison Stadium (pictured) at Creighton in Omaha. Morrison took about a year to open from ground breaking at a cost of about $14 million. LBS would probably cost more than that, but significantly less than the $80 million plus being spent on MLS stadiums and their additional developments. For the sake of argument, LBS would probably be closer to the $28.5 million spent on Columbus Crew Stadium, even after inflation. To keep things level, add another $10 million for the land itself (roughly 15 acres, based on Crew), which will hold the stadium, parking, and practice fields. To keep things simple, we'll say $40 million on the stadium and related costs - or nearly 40 times the cost of the team itself.
But other sources of income can offset the stadium cost. In addition to the aforementioned Menace occupation, the stadium could host concerts, high school and college soccer, football (using temporary lines), youth sports, and other outdoor events. Add in the concession costs and ability to sell alcohol on site. Plus, the team has no overhead in the form of rent. Major League Soccer has found this type of stadium to be one of the keys to achieving profitability and I am convinced the same would be true for a Major League Lacrosse franchise.

Previous Continue

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Iowa Teams In the MCLA

Playoffs start this week in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association and three of the five teams based in Iowa are still alive. Palmer (2-5) and Cornell (1-5) saw their seasons end last week. Only one team barely over the state line has games this weekend - Creighton. Augustana (6-4) is finished while UNO (0-5) was suspended earlier this year for problems stemming from a road trip. No information is available regarding South Dakota...

Iowa State (2-7) vs Marquette (4-10) - 4/30/10
Winner faces #6 Minnesota-Duluth (11-3) in semifinal - 5/1/10
Winner plays in conference championship - 5/2/10

Division I
Iowa (9-1) vs Wisconsin (8-3) - 4/30/10
Winner faces #20 Illinois (10-2) in semifinal - 5/1/10
Winner plays in conference championship - 5/2/10

Division II
Dordt (3-4) vs Wheaton (6-5)
Winner faces Missouri Baptist (9-2) in semifinal - 5/1/10
Winner plays in conference championship - 5/2/10

Creighton (3-8) has a first round bye
Faces winner of Missouri State (8-5) vs St. Louis (5-6) in semifinal - 5/1/10
Winner plays in conference championship - 5/2/10

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Broadcast

Sorry for the long interruption. I an now completely caught up on entering our stats on both the Valley website and the Nebraska High School Lacrosse League site. With a bye week on Saturday, I should have plenty of time to resume where I left off. Hopefully I can get the next post written and up by tomorrow afternoon...
In the meantime, Drake wants to have a scrimmage game against adult players this Saturday (May 1). It will be a full contact scrimmage - which means that pads, helmets, etc. are required. If you are interested, please email me for the full details.
In case you missed it, Valley is now 10-2 with one game remaining (May 8) in the regular season. The game has huge playoff implications as it determines who is the number one seed in our division. Playoffs begin Saturday, May 15 in Omaha.
One last thing - The entry for the best thing I've read all day comes from West Side Lax:
"black nights WILL make a run in state so watch out and bring your A-Game."(sic)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Machine in Motion

Sorry that I missed this on Friday. Major League Lacrosse has announced another stop on the Chicago Machine's 2010 road tour. The Machine will face the Toronto Nationals at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC during the first week of the season.This will be the second regular season MLL game held at the 6,883 seat stadium. The Rochester Rattlers beat the Philadelphia Barrage 20-17 in 2008. Wake Med Soccer Park is the home of the Carolina Railhawks USSF Division 2 professional soccer team.
I previously identified WakeMed Soccer Park as a potential venue during my MLL Expansion series. The league's return to this facility strongly indicates that the Research Triangle continues to be a potential home for professional lacrosse. With two of the best programs in the history of NCAA Division One lax and three MCLA clubs, I am not surprised.
Earlier today the league announced the location of the Machine's second game against the Lizards: John Fallon Field on the campus of the University of Albany. The June 12 game will start at 7:00 pm. local time. This marks the first time the league has played in New York's capital city.

Monday Morning Tiger Report - Week 5

Coming on the heels of two wins last Saturday, we headed to Council Bluffs for our first games ever in the River City. At a packed Council Bluffs Sports Complex, the lax field sat alone from the bajillion occupied soccer fields. Although it looked to be about 20 yards too short and 10 yards too narrow with eight inch long grass, the ground was level and firm. Overall the field was smooth and nicer than some of the other grass surfaces we have experienced this season. In fact, the length of the grass combined with the slight give from earlier rain created an almost Field Turf esque surface. Good thing we spent so much time working on ground balls last week...

Game 1 vs River City

15-1 Win

If ever there was a game that went 100% according to the plan, this was it. On the way to CB, the team manager asked for my thoughts on this game. I told him flat out that we should have 12 goals by halftime, but that depending on which version of the Tigers showed up we could be in trouble. Luckily, the boys brought their A-game and racked up 12.

What was entirely unexpected was the first half shut out. Not only did Couch stop everything that was thrown anywhere near him, the defense and middies stepped up to prevent the ball from being in the box to begin with. Over three quarters, Couch only saw five shots - only three of which were on goal. He ended the game with a perfect record.

The second half saw the bench worked in with a number of JV players getting significant minutes. Eight-grade JV goalie Taylor made his varsity debut in the fourth. Taylor only saw three shots, two of which were on net. Although he saved the first, the second was the Black Knights' best of the day - a hard rip from six yards straight to the bottom corner; it would have beaten most varsity goalies.

Face offs were exceptional as well. Starting face off specialist Harrington won 78% on 9 draws. Number two Arends split his two draws. JV captain and face off specialist Goertz won all five of his. The team grabbed 34 ground balls as well.

Game 2 vs Westside

15-10 Win

After last week's rough start, we knew the Warriors would be looking for any signs of weakness. Given our record for going soft following a big win, we were a bit afraid the boys would let Westide into the game. Luckily we once again stuck to the game plan. The game was nowhere near as close as the scoreline suggests.

We came out firing and maintained a strong pace over the course of the game. The defense held fairly tight but allowed the Warriors to take 21 shots at Couch over 3 1/2 quarters. Couch made 11 saves and gave up 5 and D. Griess and Bostwick led the Tigers in goals with 7 and 6, respectively.

The bench starting rotating in early in the third. Taylor entered the game about halfway through the fourth on the heels of a 10 point advantage. Once again the eighth grader looked strong and confident making quality saves. Although five shots got past him, none were soft goals. Definitely not a bad performance for a kid that just started playing lax a couple of months ago.

There were no JV games this week. The league has no games next week due to ACTs and multiple proms. Valley returns to action on May 8 with varsity and JV games against Creighton Prep. The boys are focused on the rematch and understand its importance as we head into the playoffs on May 15.


Over the weekend Prep and Lincoln both faced Blue Valley West from the Kansas League. Prep lost on Saturday 8-6; Lincoln decimated BVW 10-5. Prep also faced Burke on Saturday and left with a 7-5 win (according to West Side Lax). Reports from other coaches claimed a 6-5 victory with Prep coming from behind to pull out a squeaker. Lincoln had no other games this weekend. They face each other Friday night in what is now the most important game of the regular season.

As the regular season winds down, the top four teams are: Lincoln, Prep, Valley, and Millard West. WSL lists them in that order; Lax Power has Valley in first followed by West, Prep, and Lincoln. I would say that WSL is more accurate at the moment considering Lincoln and Prep each have only one loss in league play. As things shake out in the next couple of weeks, the top four should remain consistent with only the specific rankings shuffled.

Millard West should finish the season without another loss, but #6 Burke has the ability to beat anybody and have come close against both Prep and Valley. Lincoln still has a lot of games to play, including Burke and a a couple against #5 Millard North who has been surging as of late. Still, the Rampage's biggest threat is Prep. In addition to Lincoln and Valley, the Bluejays still have a game against Westside, which should be a win. The Tigers only have Prep.

Lincoln- 4/27 Millard North, 4/30 Prep, 5/6 M North, 5/8 River City, 5/8 Burke; should finish 12-1 in league play
Prep- 4/30 Lincoln, 5/8 Valley, 5/8 Westside; should finish 10-3 in league play
Valley- 5/8 Prep; should finish 11-2 in league play
Millard West- 5/4 Burke, 5/6 River City; should finish 11-2 in league play

Tribe 7