When Johns Hopkins lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala steps outside his office these days, he sees a dream coming true at the east end of Homewood Field. Construction crews are making steady progress on the Cordish Center, the new home of the Blue Jays men’s and women’s lacroose teams that will transform the 100-year old field, the Yankee Stadium of lacrosse.
“To go out and see the second-level going up is phenomenal,” he said. “Every day you see something new being done. It’s about so much more than lacrosse. We wanted a facility that told the story of academic success, athletic success, and success off the field.”
The first university dedicated to research in the United States, will be the only Division I lacrosse program in the nation to have constructed a building dedicated to the sport.
“This is something we’ve talked about for awhile—from renovations to a field house to an actual building. One thing that we agreed on, we needed to do it right and we’ve taken that approach,” said Pietramala.
The $10 million dollar contemporary structure—a kind of lacrosse temple—is named after the lead donor David Cordish, a three-year Blue Jays Lacrosse Player and chairman of the Cordish Companies.
Highlights include a reception area with balcony overlooking Homewood Field, a 50-person theater, a field-level patio and exhibits that will chronicle the history of Blue Jays Lacrosse. It will also feature an academic center with wireless access and comfortable furniture where players can study and relax.
“The landscape has changed,” said Ernie Larossa, Communications Director in the JHU Athletic Department. “We need to do things that will separate us and help us stay a step ahead of the Virginias and the Dukes.”
The Hopkins athletic department installed a video screen on the scoreboard at the west end of the field last fall and the Cordish Center will close off the east end. These elements will enhance the action on the field.
“Closing off both ends will make for a great game-day experience. It will create an intimate atmosphere,” said Andy Bilello, Associate Publisher of Inside Lacrosse magazine, who organizes events at NFL stadiums. Homewood is somewhat like Cameron indoor stadium.”
Larossa would like to see more families from the community at lacrosse games and other athletic events. He also said that the concessionaires, a fixture at lacrosse games, may be in a different spot but they will continue serving one of the best Italian sausages in the city.
"[The Center] is a pretty significant addition to the Yankee Stadium of college lacrosse and part of the fabric of the university,” he said. “If you asked people on the street about Hopkins, 50 people would talk about medicine and 50 would mention lacrosse. Everything here is about excellence and we strive to keep our end of the bargain.”
Pietramala believes the structure will change the face of the sport at Hopkins and help with recruiting efforts when kids see the commitment being made.
Neighborhood fans agree.
“You’ve got to do something to compete with the kids going to the big-time schools like Syracuse and Notre Dame,” said Clarke Griffin who has walked to the games from his Guilford home for the last 28 years. “Lacrosse is meant to be played on a college campus, and you don’t want to lose that intimate feel.”