Home Field Advantage

November 09, 1991

The University of Maryland's new athletic director, Andy Geiger, says today's game with Penn State will be the last at Memorial Stadium. "We're spending millions of dollars on facilities here [College Park], so why not showcase them?" he said. Why not indeed? But there is no need to play every home game there. The university and its football program reap several advantages by playing a game a season here:

* There is the excitement for the team and student fans of playing in a big city, big crowd environment.

* There is added revenue. At this year's homecoming game in College Park, only 37,000 fans came by to enjoy the game and rTC the new showcase facilities. Since Maryland resumed playing a game a season in Baltimore in 1984, the average attendance has been 57,000; over 60,000 fans are expected at Memorial Stadium this afternoon. * There is goodwill with the Baltimore metropolitan area's sports fans, alumni and high school athletes. Several football players have been recruited in part because they would have a chance to play before hometown friends and relatives.

* And there is the goodwill with the metropolitan area's business community and state legislators. This is important. College Park has suffered as the state's flagship university because of its image as a suburban Washington institution. Mr. Geiger doesn't help matters by justifying his decision in part by saying businesses in College Park lose money when a game is played in Baltimore.

It is not unusual for state universities regularly to move a football home game from the campus stadium to a larger city in the state. The University of Florida plays at Jacksonville every year. Alabama often plays at Birmingham. Mississippi and Mississippi State both play in Jackson. Texas plays at Dallas. Arkansas plays more than one game a year in Little Rock. Oregon State plays in Portland. Indiana, Indiana State and Purdue all play now and then at Indianapolis. And so on.

Mr. Geiger ought to think this over. UMCP President William E. Kirwan, who has indicated in the past he is a fan of a regular Baltimore game, ought to discuss it with him.

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