World Lacrosse awarded the 2023 Men’s World Lacrosse Championship to San Diego on Monday with the main events to be staged at new Snapdragon Stadium, the future football home of San Diego State.
It’s the tournament’s first appearance in Southern California and only its fourth time on U.S soil. The event, held every four years, could presage the sport’s inclusion in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
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As the host, the U.S. has the right to seek inclusion of sports that are not regularly in the Olympic program. Last year in Japan, six sports were added, including men’s baseball and women’s softball.
Joe Tsai, the multi-billionaire who heads the San Diego 2023 Organizing Committee, is a proponent of having lacrosse in the L.A. Games.
Tsai, who co-founded Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and owns the Nets and the Barclays Center, also owns San Diego’s National Lacrosse League franchise and last year reached an agreement to bring an NLL team to Las Vegas, later adding hockey great Wayne Gretzky and Nets coach Steve Nash to the ownership group.
The NLL, including Tsai’s team, the San Diego Seals, play indoors, but the World Championships will be played outside, which makes sense since the outdoor game is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., with 900,000 participants. The Seals were founded in time for the 2018-19 indoor season and play at Pechanga Arena San Diego, the former San Diego Sports Arena.
“We’re incredibly excited to bring the premier men’s lacrosse tournament to California for the first time,” Jim Scherr, World Lacrosse chief executive, said in a release. “The sport has seen rapid growth around the world and across the U.S. and the event will serve as a catalyst for inclusion in the 2028 Summer Olympics.”
Tsai—the chairman of BSE Global, parent of the Nets, their development team and the Brooklyn arena—has a net worth of $8.8 billion and is a resident of La Jolla, a San Diego oceanfront community.
The lacrosse event, originally scheduled for 2022 in British Columbia but postponed by the pandemic, will feature up to 30 teams and more than 100 games played across facilities on the campuses of San Diego State and University of San Diego from June 21 to July 1, 2023.
The opening and closing ceremonies, the first game, semifinals and all medal games are slated for the new 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium.
The $310 million facility was built in the parking lot adjacent to San Diego Stadium, which was torn down last year. The old 70,000-seat facility, opened in 1968, was home to the San Diego Chargers, San Diego Padres and San Diego State football. The Aztecs were the sole remaining tenants in the city- and county-owned and operated stadium after the Padres left for downtown Petco Park in 2004 and the Chargers moved to L.A. in 2017.
San Diego State won a city-wide referendum to redevelop the 166-acre parcel as an extension to its nearby campus and is in the process of redeveloping the entire area that includes the stadium, which is expandable in case the NFL ever wants to return to San Diego. San Diego State is scheduled to play its first football game there this coming Sept. 3.
“We’re honored to serve as the local organizing committee and welcome the world to southern California,” said Steve Govett, vice chair of the San Diego 2023 Organizing Committee. “We look forward to engaging the global lacrosse community at the highest level of international competition in San Diego.”