The NCAA Lacrosse Championships are back at the best venue in the world – Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts (a close second is the club lacrosse field at Elon University’s South Campus). I grew up going to Gillette to watch Championship Weekend, and there’s nothing better than going back home to watch it each time the stadium plays host to this great event.
With that being said, I’ve seen my fair share of lacrosse games here, and have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. I’ve come to share a few of them with you to help ensure your Championship Weekend experience is the best it can be.
1. Tailgate – You’ll Be Happy You Did
Tailgate for two reasons:
- Getting there early will ensure you’re not late for the games as a result of traffic on Route 1 being 3 miles long (not exaggerating).
- Who doesn’t love a good tailgate?
There is only one road in and one road out of Gillette Stadium and that, my friends, is good ole’ Route 1. She’s two lanes of absolute Hell on game days. Now, Foxborough’s Finest will most likely open up another lane on the other side of the double-yellow to keep traffic moving, but, even then, if you’re late it won’t matter. You might as well put it in park.
Tailgating also provides a great opportunity to bring the sticks out and play a little bit of catch. You get to try and impress those around you with some BTB’s, Indian Pick-Ups, and a divine display of your off-hand capabilities. Throw some burgers on a grill, break out the spoons, and have yourself a good time.
Note: This is important! Do NOT, under any circumstances, bring your stick with you as you leave the tailgate and head to the game. Unless you want to look like every kid who just finished their first year of youth ball, leave the sticks in the car. They serve no purpose in the stadium, will be a huge hassle, and you’re over the age of 12 (I assume).
2. Put Your Walkin’ Boots On
While Route 1 is a nightmare, the cool thing is is that the surrounding businesses have had years of Patriots games/other events to prepare for the traffic. You’ll see places open up their parking lots for paid-parking all along the road.
My advice: park in them. Do it. Doesn’t matter how far, just do it. If there’s a sign that is advertising parking in that particular lot, that means that people have parked there before. Those are the smart ones.
Sure, the walk may be lengthy, but, trust me, it’ll feel much better when you’re able to get out of the town of Foxborough in under 2 hours. The rookies who park all the way up at the stadium lot will not be so lucky. So, park wisely.
3. Jerseys Belong On The Field, Not In The Stands
Not trying to turn this into a fashion blog by any means, but this is important stuff. You’ll see people wearing all sorts of things, most of which are totally fine. However, what I seriously warn against is any kind of lacrosse jersey, particularly one that supports a team that is not even on the field.
You have nothing to prove by wearing a jersey. We get it, you’re a lacrosse fan. You wouldn’t be there if you weren’t. There’s no need to try and prove to random people you will likely never see again that you were, in fact, once on an organized lacrosse team.
Also, you won’t stand out either, because every single kid below the age of 15 will be wearing their jersey as well. At their age, who cares, wear the hell out of your jersey, but once you pass a certain point (middle school) it kind of becomes a no-go.
4. Sit By The Band/Student Section
The cool thing about this event is that there won’t be ushers at each section checking tickets. It is for that reason I advise you to do this: sit as close to the student section (of the team you’re rooting for) as possible, and find some shade.
It will be pretty hot, and sitting in the sun for two full lacrosse games can be tough. Therefore, if you see some open seats in a shady spot, go grab them – you’ll be happy you did.
Just as, if not more, important is sitting as close as you can get to a student section. These kids go crazy for their teams and it’s a really cool environment to be a part of. I remember my dad and I moving over to the Hopkins’ band section and sitting with them for their game against Syracuse. It was great because they were, obviously, devoted fans who had been with the team all year, and they were rooting against Syracuse, like me. Sure, Syracuse ended up winning, which sucked, but you get the idea.
A few years later, when Loyola made their championship run, I distinctly remember their student section being easily 200-300 strong. It was awesome. They were hanging on every loose ball, every shot, and would go crazy for big hits. I imagine Albany will have a fan base similar in size and nature. The teams that don’t get there year after year typically have fans that won’t take it for granted.
There are some free tips for you to feel like a vet. Feel free to follow them as you please. If you choose to do so, you are
guaranteed more-likely-than-not to have a great experience at beautiful Gillette Stadium!