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Pasco working to keep major lacrosse tournament

Posted: 5:41 PM, Dec 29, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-29 17:41:32-05
The Dick's Sporting Goods Lacrosse Tournament of Champions is underway right now in Pasco County, and aside from all the play, there's a  lot of work happening off the field to make sure the tournament stays there.
 
The athletes who compete in lacrosse are passionate about the sport.
 
"It's really just a calling. It's a passion. You play it once and you just kind of feel it. Once you feel it, you don't want to stop!" said Cole Gingell, a player with the Michigan Mavericks Club.
 
For many of the athletes, escaping the cold and snow makes having the tournament here in Florida even sweeter.
 
"Any time you can get out in the nice weather in December, we're excited to be here," said Keith Cromwell, coach of Igloo Lacrosse of Long Island, New York.
 
This is the ninth year Wesley Chapel has hosted the Tournament of Champions. Between the athletes and their fans, it's a huge boost to the local economy, bringing in about $3 million to the region during a slow time of the year.
 
"They do three days on the field playing intensive lacrosse. They get seen by college scouts, then they go out and play at Busch Gardens, Disney, Clearwater Beach, and we hope other places in Pasco, too," said Ed Caum, Visit Pasco tourism manager.
 
But bringing the tournament to town takes a lot of work and money. Securing the event costs $100,000. Despite some recent debate over renewing the promoter's contract, Pasco County commissioners say they're committed to keeping this tournament here and working with Hillsborough County and area businesses to make it better than ever in 2016.
 
"I have no doubt that's going to happen. Pasco County has incredible parks and we're positioning ourselves as an outdoor sports mecca," Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said.
 
Players and coaches hope commissioners sign off on the new contract soon, so they can look forward to scoring big in Wesley Chapel again for years to come.
 
"We absolutely love it.  You can't get better than this," said Al Khoury, Michigan Mavericks coach.
 
If you'd like to check out some games, they're being played through Thursday at the Wesley Chapel District Park and Wesley Chapel High School.