Giving thanks: Prep football doubleheader can stay at stadium, for now

July 19, 1991|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Evening Sun Staff

Old quarterbacks never forget, and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, more than a few years removed from the fray, is still quick to remind a caller that one half of the traditional Thanksgiving high school football doubleheader is City vs. Poly, not the other way around.

But when the subject is the future location of the City-Poly and Loyola-Calvert Hall games, things aren't quite as clear.

Schmoke said he had heard rumors that the two games would not be played at Memorial Stadium this year and asked Marilyn Perritt, the city's parks and recreation department director, to look into the matter.

Although officials from the schools had been told by stadium representatives that this year's games would have to be played elsewhere, Alma Bell, a spokeswoman for the parks department, said that the games would indeed take place at Memorial Stadium.

Bell said parks officials had merely sent out word that no new events would be scheduled at Memorial Stadium, which will host the Maryland-Penn State football game on Nov. 9, two weeks before the Thanksgiving doubleheader.

"All that we were trying to do was let people know that we weren't scheduling new events, or things that weren't scheduled before. We certainly want the City-Poly and Loyola-Calvert Hall games at the stadium," said Bell.

However, while this year's situation is settled, the future site of the long-standing games is anything but resolved.

"Even if this year's problem is solved, we may be facing this again in a year or two," said Brother William Johnson, president of Calvert Hall.

Officials from the schools have said preliminary discussions about where to play the games in the future have taken place, but those talks are in limbo, pending a decision on the city's bid for an expansion NFL team.

If the bid is successful, then the new team would likely play its first seasons at Memorial Stadium before moving into a new football-only park in the Camden Yards complex.

Schmoke has proclaimed himself "optimistic" that that scenario will play out, and the new team will make the Thanksgiving date available at both Memorial Stadium and a new park.

"Both are important traditions, and I'm sure that they will co-exist," said Schmoke.

But a task force studying the future use of the 33rd Street facility has recommended that the stadium be demolished in 1995, and if there is no football team, and thus no new stadium, where will the games be played?

"We'd pretty much have to find another place to play," said Jerry Savage, Loyola's athletic director. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

George Petrides, athletic director at City, said that with the doubleheader's popularity and the usual 10,000-12,000 that attend the games, no facility other than Memorial Stadium, including stadiums at Towson State, Morgan State or Johns Hopkins, would be able to hold the contests.

"We've talked about it, but we don't have any solution," said Petrides. "There really isn't anywhere in town big enough to get the number of people that we're getting now."

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