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World Lacrosse Championship headed to San Diego as sport eyes return to Olympics

World Lacrosse is beginning to ramp up its push for a return to the Olympics.

A central component of its strategy: San Diego.

Tea San Diego Seals and World Lacrosse on Monday will announce that the 2023 World Lacrosse Championship will be staged in San Diego as the sport attempts to generate buzz for inclusion in the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

That criteria is expected to begin to crystalize after the conclusion of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. Olympic officials have already added two SoCal niche sports – skateboarding and surfing – as well as sport climbing to the “additional” list for the Paris Games in 2024. The hope is staging the 2023 World Lacrosse Championship some two hours south of Los Angeles would help forge the sport’s return to the Olympics for the first time in more than century.

Seals owner Joseph Tsai, who also owns the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA, is expected to be on hand for Monday’s 3 pm news conference at Snapdragon Stadium.

“This is an opportunity to showcase the sport in a growing lacrosse hotbed in Southern California,” Seals President Steve Govett said, “to showcase the growth of the game in the shadow of LA 2028.”

World Lacrosse originally announced it was withdrawing its bid to host the 2022 World Championship in Coquitlam, BC, Canada, in October 2019. The pandemic pushed the event back to 2023, when it will be held at at least three locations in San Diego: Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego State’s main campus and USD.

UC San Diego could be added as a fourth site of the event.

The World Lacrosse Championship is scheduled to be held June 21 to July 1 next year, with 30 countries expected to participate in some 150 games.

Beyond the main event, 300 to 350 teams, from youth to masters, super masters and grand masters are also expected to descend upon San Diego that summer as the Seals help stage the first World Lacrosse Championship west of Denver.

The championships were last held in 2018 in Israel.

Lacrosse was last an Olympic medal event in London in 1908 and was last a demonstration sport in 1948, also in London.

The Seals, who play box lacrosse at Pechanga Arena, began play in San Diego as part of the National Lacrosse League in 2019 only to have their inaugural season delayed by a labor dispute and their second and third campaigns halted by the pandemic.

Among the current Seals players to participate in previous World Lacrosse Championships are former No. 1 overall pick Austin Staats (Iroquois), Canadians Tre Leclaire and Wesley Berg and Americans Mac O’Keefe, Eli Gobrecht and Mark Glicini.

“Ultimately, lacrosse is not a mainstream sport,” Govett said of the Seals’ upcoming work with the World Lacrosse Championship. “So our job and the No. 1 pillar of our strategic focus is to raise awareness for the game in a World Lacrosse event. From a global perspective, welcoming the world to San Diego is paramount to us continuing to touch on pillars like awareness and education for the growth of the game.

“If we get more kids playing the game through the exposure of having the world’s best players in town, that’s a huge win for us.”

— to www.sandiegouniontribune.com

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