Outcome aside, Md. winner of Army-Navy

Game's attention, revenue boost to benefit region

June 05, 1999|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

PSINet Stadium next year will become the 14th venue to host the annual Army-Navy classic, announced formally yesterday by officials who estimate the game will bring more than $15 million into the city.

The 101st renewal marks the first time the game has been played in Baltimore since 1944 when, according to Sen. Barbara Mikulski "it was linked to a war bond drive and 70,000 people came. The only bad thing that happened is that Army won."

Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel placed the revenue to be gleaned "as somewhere around $15 million and up when you consider four or five days in hotels, restaurants, transportation. That's kind of the number we look at in Philadelphia," where 50 of the last 54 Army-Navy games have been held.

But Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John Brown said that estimate "might be a little low. The majority of the fans are from out of town, so that means a lot of hotel business. The demographics of the crowd are just tremendous."

Brown said the Dec. 2, 2000, game is "clearly something we want to keep" in future years and labeled it one of the 20 major events the authority hoped to attract to the stadium annually.

Lengyel was keeping the options open for future renewals, but added that he believes the Army-Navy showdown "is going to go to a more home-and-home format" than in the past when they have overwhelmingly met on rather neutral territory in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.

He denied, however, that last year's incident, in which a railing collapsed and nine Army cadets were injured, had anything to do with the change in venue. Philadelphia is already contracted to host the 2001 and 2002 games.

Navy has played in Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, playing host to Notre Dame in the Redskins' stadium last season, and this year begins a three-game agreement to play the Air Force Academy there.

"This gives us an opportunity to examine both major stadiums in the area, how they work and what is in our best interest in the future," Lengyel said.

Army officials must agree to playing sites, but Lengyel said "in this one we took the lead. We certainly want to try out the major-league facilities in our area."

U.S. Military Academy Lt. Gen. Daniel Christman said, "Army is thrilled to be playing in Baltimore after a 56-year absence. We look forward to bringing Army football in Navy's backyard and showcasting this inter-service classic to another terrific part of the country."

Navy has played 67 times in Baltimore since Oct. 27, 1923, and has a 28-30-9 record. The last game here was held in 1988, pitting the Midshipmen against Notre Dame. The last Army-Navy game, in 1944, matched No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation. The Cadets won, 23-7, and $58 million in war bonds were purchased as a result of the game.

The change will certainly sit well with Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie, who said he "always prefers to play on grass" rather than the turf at the Vet.

Ravens president David Modell called landing the game "a team win on behalf of the community. We hope Army-Navy will show our friends in the greater Olympic community what we can do with an event."

Mikulski, as usual, couldn't contain her enthusiasm, saying "We can't wait to give Army the goat. Army and Navy have the right stuff, and here in Baltimore we had the right stadium."

Navy '99 schedule

Date Opp. Date Opp.

9/4 Georgia Tech 10/23 Akron

9/11 at Kent State 10/30 at Notre Dame

9/18 Boston College 11/6 at Rutgers

9/25 at Rice 11/13 Tulane

10/2 at West Virginia 11/20 at Hawaii

10/9 Air Force * 12/4 Army**

*-at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Landover

**-at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia

Pub Date: 6/05/99

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