In late 2015, Elite Tournaments, a major player in soccer event management, expanded into a new market when Al Hernandez was tapped to lead a lacrosse division targeting the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. Here, Hernandez discusses the move.
Why is Elite organizing lacrosse events?
Prior to my arrival, Elite already had a history within lacrosse, most notably assisting Trilogy with a series of events around 2013. This was something Mike and Matt Libber had visions of eventually doing, especially after those events. Mike saw it as an opportunity to really step in, especially in a period where there’s so much interest.
So you’re leveraging the contacts you’ve made through soccer?
One example would be the opportunities we’ve had in states throughout the South and the access to facilities at which we have run soccer events. That prior experience and name recognition in a lot of markets throughout the states will help us with our growth.
What will set Elite apart?
When a sport like lacrosse is growing so quickly, it’s easy for event operators without much experience to put on an event. But at the end of the day, they’re not necessarily some of the best events. They come up a bit short. We hope that with our reputation and our history in the sport of soccer, plus our connections and ability to get facilities, [we can] go into these growing lacrosse markets and be the tournament event company of choice.
What are your goals for the next 18 months?
We anticipate six to eight events for 2017 into early 2018. Is it possible to hit 20? Absolutely. The growth of the game will enable that. Lacrosse used to be primarily an East Coast, middle- to upper-class game, and now it’s reaching all demographics.