LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Memorial Day starts the lazy days of summer, but the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch will be anything but this holiday weekend.
Florida's first Laxpalooza lacrosse tournament is coming to Lakewood Ranch, a competitive event for boys and girls at all levels in the Southeast region. The public is invited to attend at no cost.
More than 35 teams and some 2,000 people are expected at the sports campus tournament, which will feature competition between different levels of teenagers and pre-teens as young as fifth grade through high school. Local lacrosse teams as well as squads traveling from across Florida and Georgia and as far north as Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York will all compete Saturday and Sunday.
The Laxpalooza lacrosse tournament is also held every year in Pennsylvania. East Coast teams that placed in the top three in their respective divisions were invited to Lakewood Ranch this weekend, said tournament Director Kevin O'Neill.
Premier Sports Campus Director Antonio Saviano said he's excited about having the tournament for the first time in Florida.
"These will be teams that we never play on a weekly basis, so it will be a great experience for them to see how they stack up with the north. This is a huge tour
nament (up north), and we are hoping the first year here will eventually be as big," Saviano said.
In addition, Saviano said he is hoping the tournament will have a significant economic impact over the long holiday weekend for hotels, merchants and restaurants.
"Since the competition will be held during the day only, this gives all our visitors the chance to explore the area," Saviano said. "They can go anywhere -- Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota -- and patronize our local establishments."
Saviano says the Premier Sports Campus will not slow following Laxpalooza. Rippin' at the Ranch, another lacrosse tournament for Florida teenagers, is scheduled the third week in June, and the Florida Sunshine State Games, an Olympic-style sports festival featuring lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee and rugby competitions, runs June 7-8. The Florida Sunshine State Games drew thousands to the area last year.
Laxpalooza gets underway at 8 a.m. each morning, and guests are invited to bring blankets and lawn chairs to sit on field. Vendors will sell food and beverages. Parking is free.
The Premier Sports Campus, 5895 Post Blvd. in Lakewood Ranch, is off of State Road 70.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.