The Ohio Machine is hitting the road this off-season … permanently.
The team announced a multi-year partnership with Ohio Dominican University during a press conference Tuesday afternoon — a deal which will move its home venue from Ohio Wesleyan University’s Selby Stadium to Ohio Dominican’s Panther Stadium for the foreseeable future.
“We are extremely thrilled to join Ohio Dominican University in this partnership and to call Panther Stadium home,” Gregg Klein, Machine vice president of business operations, said. “As an organization, we want to thank Ohio Wesleyan University for their hospitality and support over the past four years. We are excited to move our home field to a more centralized location near downtown Columbus and further connect with the lacrosse community in central Ohio and beyond.”
The Machine will play seven home games at Panther Stadium in 2016. The Major League Lacrosse season is set to begin in April and runs through August.
“Our players are really looking forward to taking the field at Panther Stadium for the first time,” Machine vice president and head coach Bear Davis said. “The facilities and staff at Ohio Dominican are first rate and our team looks forward to having a lot of success at Panther Stadium starting this April.”
The Machine played each of its first four seasons at historic Selby Stadium after joining Major League Lacrosse as an expansion team in 2011. Last year was easily its best — a 9-5 season punctuated by a trip to the postseason. Attendance, though, was another story. The Machine drew an average of just more than 2,700, that after attracting better than 3,500 in 2012.
“Ohio Wesleyan was pleased to have the Ohio Machine on campus for four seasons and for the opportunity to have fans experience Major League Lacrosse in Selby Stadium,” OWU Athletics Director Roger Ingles said. “Our intent in bringing the Machine to Delaware was to help grow the game and bring some of the best players in the nation to Delaware, Ohio. We did that. We wish the team well in its new home, and we look forward to continuing to bring crowds to Delaware and OWU for Battling Bishop athletic events, high school playoff games, and more.”
“We wish the Machine good luck, many victories and a long history that we are proud to say got its start in Delaware, Ohio,” Delaware city spokesman Lee Yoakum said.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.