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Lacrosse field in Rochester

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Lacrosse field in Rochester

Is it time for a lacrosse field to be created in Rochester?

Brad Jones, the executive director for the Rochester Area Visitors and Convention Bureau, thinks lacrosse’s time has arrived as do many supporters of the fast-growing spring sport.

"Right now if you build it, they (teams and tournaments) will come. But you don’t want to be on the back end of that," he says. Jones would like to have something in development within 24 months.

The cost is similar to building a soccer field, ranging from $15,00 to $50,000, he said.

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While it might sound like the idea is coming from left field, the sport is gaining ground in Rochester and throughout the region. As part of his job, Jones is primarily looking at the future and developing more reasons for people to visit by attracting tournaments. Others see a new field opportunity to serve a growing group of local players.

"A dedicated lacrosse field would be tremendous. It would be great," Wes Emmert, who worked the lacrosse club during its first years.

The Rochester boys high school club started in 2002 with 40 members. This year eight boys and girls high school club teams with more than 160 players are expected to play this spring. A "mini league" for girls in third through fifth grades is being formed. Many days after school, kids can be found using "crosses" – the stick with the net at the end – to toss a solid rubber ball back and forth.

"We need a home for the sport to grow and been successful in Rochester," says Maureen Sanderson, who coaches high school and middle girls clubs. " I think it (a field or complex) would be put to really good use."

It would seem that Rochester with its more than 40 soccer fields, many football fields and baseball diamonds has plenty of space for lacrosse teams to practice and play. However, finding room for a sport that has a thinner field with very different markings is not always easy. And the fields are very different for the full contact boys and finesse, no contact girls games.

"It is a turf issue, no pun intended," says Will Mundell, who is the chair of the boys club board of directors. His son Ben spearheaded the formation of the first club in 2006 and his daughter currently plays.

"It has been eye opening trying to find field space in Rochester," says Sanderson, who is organizing a girls youth league through Community Education.

Many soccer fields are scheduled heavily. Football fields need the spring to recover.

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This spring Rochester will host a state tournament for the nineth and tenth grade boys in southern Minnesota, said Mundell. That will take place on the Rochester Youth Football Association’s field, though that is not ideal, he said.

So what’s the next step to getting players on their own field?

Forming a lacrosse association, like Rochester youth soccer and football groups. Mundell hopes to bring the boys and girls group together for such association by next year.

Then that group together with the Rochester Youth Sports Association and other interested parties need to work out financing.

"Then we get it done," says Jones. "We grow the club and get facilities. What’s the downside?"

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