Terps may like Baltimore, but no game here this fall


Last year's big-bucks loss derails plan for '99 date

August 19, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland's endless quest to establish a football presence in Baltimore has received another setback with the absence this fall of a regular-season game at PSINet Stadium.

There was a lot of hype last year from Maryland and the Ravens when the Terps and Georgia Tech met Oct. 31 in the first NCAA Division I-A game at the new Ravens stadium, marking Maryland's football return to the city for the first time in seven years.

Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said last year that playing in Baltimore would be an asset to his program and he hoped it would become an annual ritual.

But a lot of the enthusiasm dimmed for the Ravens after an announced crowd of only 25,183 attended the game, resulting in a financial loss estimated in the neighborhood of $600,000. The Terps also lost the game, 31-14.

The Ravens and Maryland Stadium Authority officials had hoped to draw about 40,000.

Ed Cline, head of stadium operations, said the Ravens didn't market the game properly, but David Cope, then Ravens vice president of sales and marketing, said $300,000 was spent on advertising.

So it comes as no surprise that an agreement could not be reached for a 1999 game.

"We couldn't work it out for two reasons," said Kevin Byrne, Ravens vice president of public relations. "We couldn't find the right game, and if we had, we would have needed to reach a financial agreement with Maryland. We would be interested in a game somewhere down the line."

It is thought that Maryland received a guarantee of $800,000 to play Georgia Tech last fall.

One key to a future Baltimore game would be bringing in a high-profile opponent such as Florida State or teams such as Clemson and West Virginia, which always have strong fan support.

New Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Brown said a Maryland-Navy matchup could be the answer.

"We're not going to bring in Notre Dame anytime in the near future, and Penn State is tied up with a conference [Big Ten]," said Brown, a longtime Maryland booster. "I think Navy-Maryland would be a good game."

The Terps "have to show we're going to be competitive before we can expect to play the top teams in Baltimore. You have to remember, Maryland was going to bowl games every year when it [sold out] Memorial Stadium."

Vanderlinden said yesterday that a Maryland-Navy game would be "a great matchup and a financial windfall for both teams. I think we ought to play in Baltimore every other year, but I would not be against a game there every year."

Wu injury could linger

Starting senior right guard Jamie Wu could be affected all season by the three bulging disks in his back, Vanderlinden said.

"The MRIs didn't show anything alarming," he said. "They're going to give him a slight injection in the back, and he is going to rest until Monday."

Jafar Williams slowed

Promising freshman wide receiver Jafar Williams has been undergoing tests to determine the exact extent of a pre-existing biological condition that affects his entire body.

"It's an ongoing thing, and we're not sure how it's going to affect his career," said Vanderlinden of the speedy youngster from Philadelphia's George Washington High.

Pub Date: 8/19/99

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