SYRACUSE, NY — The Iroquois Nationals announced they will host the 2015 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championship at Tsha’Hon’nonyen’dakhwa’ Onondaga Nation Arena near Syracuse, N.Y., and First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., in September of 2015.
According to the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau, the six-day-long portion of the event at the Onondaga Nation, which is expected to attract over 300 athletes and 15,000 fans, will generate nearly $4 million in local travel spending.
“The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) is excited to announce that the Haudenosaunee Nation has been awarded the hosting rights for the 2015 WILC,” said FIL President Stan Cockerton. “We are extremely confident that the hosting committee under the leadership of Neal Powless, Assistant Director of the Native Student Program at Syracuse University, and Gewas Schindler, General Manager of the Iroquois Nationals, will run an event that the FIL and the international lacrosse community will be proud.”
The quadrennial tournament, which will take place for the fourth time, marks the first ever international sporting event to be held on indigenous lands. The Iroquois Nationals, who were first admitted by the world federation to compete internationally in 1990, represent the indigenous people that originally occupied extensive lands in what is now New York State, southern Quebec and Ontario, Canada. Stretching from the Hudson River and Mohawk Valley through to the northern and central Great Lakes region, a confederacy was formed and it brought together the Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk and Seneca tribes into the first League of Nations in North America. The Tuscarora joined the Confederacy in the mid-1700s to become the sixth member nation.
“The Onondaga Nation is extremely proud to host the international lacrosse community and is looking forward to a successful and first-class event,” said Oren Lyons, Onondaga Faithkeeper on behalf of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs. “The strength of the Buffalo Bandits organization, coupled with the historical and spiritual significance of hosting the championship on the homelands of the Haudenosaunee people will make this an event to remember.”
At the 2011 event in Prague, Canada won gold, with the Iroquois Nationals taking silver, and USA bronze. The three powerhouses feature predominantly professional players from the National Lacrosse League, including many from the Buffalo Bandits, who led the NLL’s attendance charts in 2012 with 15,918 fans per game.
“The Buffalo Bandits are extremely pleased to be chosen as co-host of WILC 2015 along with the Onondaga Nation,” said Scott Loffler, Director of Operations of the Buffalo Bandits. “Western New York and Southern Ontario has a strong and passionate following when it comes to indoor lacrosse and we are excited to show that off to the lacrosse world. We look forward to working in conjunction with the Iroquois Nationals to make this event successful and a positive experience for all involved.”
The event expects to draw a record 10-12 participating nations; Australia, Czech Republic, England, Ireland and Slovakia also competed in the 2011 event, while new FIL members in Israel, Thailand and Turkey have expressed strong interest in taking part.
Pool play and the quarterfinals will be held at Onondaga Nation Arena, with the remainder of the playoffs taking place on the Bandits home turf at First Niagara Center. In addition to an adjusted tournament format to accommodate travel between the two venues, the FIL is considering creating a premier “Blue Division” which would result in more competitive pool play matches.
“We are pleased that the Federation of International Lacrosse selected the Iroquois Nationals to host this prestigious event,” said Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. “The Onondaga Nation is an integral part of our community and we welcome the opportunity to show people from all over the world what Central New York has to offer.”
The Federation of International Lacrosse was established in August 2008 in a merger of both the men’s and women’s international lacrosse associations. FIL is responsible for the Men’s World Championship, World Indoor Championship, Women’s World Cup, and both the Men’s and Women’s Under-19 World Championships. All of these events take place every four years.
First Niagara Center is Western New York’s premier sports and entertainment facility. Primarily known as the home of the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres, First Niagara Center is a state-of-the-art venue that was designed with all kinds of live entertainment in mind. First Niagara Center hosts the best concerts, ice shows, sporting events, and family shows entertaining audiences of all ages. Since the grand opening on September 21, 1996, more than 11 million people have attended the wide variety of events held at First Niagara Center. The venue is also home to the National Lacrosse League’s Buffalo Bandits, and has hosted national profile events such as the 1999 NHL Stanley Cup Finals, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds, the NCAA “Frozen Four” Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship and much more. First Niagara Center also hosted the 2011 IIHF Under 20 World Junior Championship in December 2010.
The Tsha’Hon’nonyen’dakhwa’ Onondaga Nation Arena is a state of the art 3,000 seat hockey and lacrosse arena located conveniently off I-81, minutes from downtown Syracuse. The arena was built in 2001 at a cost of over $6 million. It serves as the home rink for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch for annual exhibition games, as well as the Onondaga Nation Cultural Festival, concerts, and hockey and lacrosse tournaments. 10 different lacrosse teams call the building home, varying in age from the Senior and Masters Onondaga Redhawks down to 3-6-year-olds.
Tickets for the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship will go on sale at a later date. For more information regarding the event, or to register for the ticket priority list, visit the official event website at www.wilc2015.com.