Get ready for the not-so-friendly
Dan Dawson says international matches in box lacrosse are not like those in other sports.
“They call their games against other countries ‘friendlies,’” the Burlington resident and captain of Team Canada said as plans for the Heritage Cup between Canada and the U.S. on Oct. 21, at FirstOntario Centre, were unveiled Wednesday.
“There are no friendlies in lacrosse. They’re ‘not-friendlies.’ ”
OK, there’s your overall tone: the heated, natural rivalry is already in place. Now, how are they going to sell it in a town that has historically resisted paying to see live lacrosse, as if it were a member of the hepatitis family?
And that’s not been just for the junior A and B teams, which have generally struggled at the gate, but for the best in the world: hardly anybody went to see the Hamilton Nationals pro field lacrosse team in Major League Lacrosse when they played at McMaster from 2011-13; and the Ontario Raiders of the professional National Lacrosse League lasted only a single year in Copps Coliseum before leaving for Toronto after the 1998 season, looking for somebody, anybody, to love them. As the Rock, they’ve found thousands who do.
“For us, for this game, we need to make sure we have that social media presence,” says Dawson, who played for the Nationals. “As a player, your job is not only to play the sport but to be a great ambassador for the sport. Every time you do an appearance at a clinic or a tournament, we mention this game.”
Representatives of the Canadian Lacrosse Association, which in June celebrates its 150th anniversary, have a marketing plan that starts with an overarching theme: affordability.
All tickets for the game, on sale Thursday to the general public, will cost $20, but certain groups will be eligible for $17 tickets. The opening thrust will be toward all minor lacrosse associations.
There’ll be a Heritage Cup presence at tournaments and other lacrosse events this spring and summer.
The second step will involve the three professional (National Lacrosse League) box lacrosse teams within driving distance. Season-ticket holders of the Rock, the Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks, numbering around 25,000, are also eligible for the $17 tickets, as is anyone who buys them in groups through the CLA, the Ontario Lacrosse Association and U.S. Lacrosse.
“Perhaps most important, is we want to bring the non-lacrosse fans into Hamilton,” said Dean French, Team Canada chair. “The plan for that one is sort of evolving: what can we do to introduce people to Canada’s national summer game?
“We’ve got a strategy behind that and it’ll be a little more outside of the box. But we haven’t unveiled that one yet.”
The NLL will also help market the game, because the growth of box lacrosse benefits its overall business.
All the ticketing details are available at www.lacrosse.ca.
Lacrosse officials announce the Heritage Cup game between Canada and the U.S., to be played at FirstOntario Centre in October.