MANATEE -- IMG Academy continues to assert itself as a top venue for major sporting events.
On Thursday, the Florida High School Athletic Association awarded IMG the boys and girls lacrosse state finals slated for May 2-3, 2014, and May 1-2, 2015.
"We're tremendously excited for the FHSAA to view our program and our facilities to be worthy of their event," IMG Performance Vice President Gary Pluchino said.
IMG underwent a bid process that began in October by submitting a business plan and receiving a visit from FHSAA officials. Pluchino said FHSAA officials said they liked what they saw.
FHSAA Executive Director Roger Dearing agreed in a news release.
"We are looking forward to bringing our state lacrosse championship to IMG Academy, where participants and their families will be greeted by a state-of-the-art facility, top-notch tournament operations and great hospitality from the surrounding community." Dearing said.
The facility is IMG's 5,000-seat stadium unveiled in August to coincide with the academy's inaugural season of varsity football.
IMG isn't a stranger to host
ing big sporting events.
Recently, the private sports academy across the street from Bayshore High School held the prestigious Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships and the IMG Nationals lacrosse tournament and the USL Super Y-League North American Finals youth soccer tournament. IMG is a finalist to host several NCAA championships such as the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, which is the Division III football national championship game.
"It provides great exposure to IMG Academy overall or our sports programs, whether it be football, lacrosse or any of the eight sports that we train here for," Pluchino said. "It shows ... confidence in the organizational skills and our operations as far as putting on large events here on campus whether it be the Eddie Herr or IMG Nationals or a state championship."
Bright House Sports Network will broadcast each game of the lacrosse finals. IMG stadium comes equipped with a broadcast-ready press and hospitality box.
With the lacrosse bid secured, attention now shifts to preparing for the event.
"Just normal event operations and facility management-type things," Pluchino said. "As far as getting ready to sell the tickets and do everything you need to do from a parking perspective, a security perspective and a concession and merchandise perspective. But these are things we do for all of our events."
Pluchino said the FHSAA will make another inspection roughly four months ahead of the event to ensure preparations are proceeding according to plan.
Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7017.