Ravens' Thanksgiving game affects Turkey Bowl

Calvert Hall, Loyola looking for alternatives after NFL releases schedule

April 20, 2011|By Glenn Graham, The Baltimore Sun

The Turkey Bowl, the annual Thanksgiving football tradition in Baltimore that pits Calvert Hall against Loyola, is in a state of flux this year.

The game, played at M&T Bank Stadium on every Thanksgiving since it opened in 1998, will give way to the Ravens. The team learned Tuesday it will host the San Francisco 49ers at 8:20 p.m. for its first Thanksgiving game in franchise history.

With no school this week because of the Easter holiday, Loyola and Calvert Hall officials have spoken to each other and the Ravens, but have yet to make alternative plans. Doug Heidrick, Calvert Hall's director of communications, said that the school's administration met Wednesday morning to discuss options for the 92nd annual meeting between the rival programs.

"The latest I heard was the options are to keep the game on Thanksgiving and play at Towson if they're available, and the Ravens have also offered to play the game at M&T either Friday or Saturday," he said.

Should the game be played on Friday at M&T Bank Stadium, it would have to take place in the mid-afternoon or evening to give the Ravens enough time to have the stadium ready following their game on Thanksgiving night.

"We just found out at 4 o'clock [Tuesday afternoon]," said Loyola athletic director Mike Keeney. "So I've spoken to my president and [Calvert Hall AD Lou Eckerl] spoke to his and we kind of said let's think about it, there's nothing we can do this week because we're both not in school, so we'll be working diligently on it next Monday."

The two schools agreed that keeping it on Thanksgiving morning is the No. 1 option.

"We've reached out to Loyola and Calvert Hall and suggested alternatives outside of Thanksgiving Day," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president of public relations.

The Turkey Bowl began in 1920 and has been played at Memorial Stadium or M&T Bank Stadium every year since 1944, except 1993. That year's game was moved to Towson State's Minnegan Stadium, now Johnny Unitas Stadium, because Memorial Stadium was under contract for the filming of "Major League II." The game moved to the Ravens' new downtown football stadium beginning in 1998.

The game, which starts at 10 a.m., usually draws a crowd of around 13,000. Johnny Unitas Stadium -- the Baltimore area's third-largest outdoor venue behind M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards -- holds 11,198 people.

Traditionally, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play home games every Thanksgiving Day and the NFL has recently added a third game at night with changing venues. The Ravens-49ers game will feature Ravens coach John Harbaugh matched up against his brother, Jim, the 49ers' first-year coach.

"I would think whatever we do, it will be a stop-gap measure to get through this year and then we can get back to the stadium for years to come," Keeney said.

The M&T Bank Stadium scheduling conflict is just the latest issue facing the Turkey Bowl. A proposed playoff system for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference would have moved the Calvert Hall-Loyola game to Sept. 30, ending the Thanksgiving tradition. But the league's board of governors approved a plan in January that would keep the Turkey Bowl intact while still implementing a playoff system.

In last year's Turkey Bowl, Calvert Hall came away with a 41-13 win over Loyola, but the Dons still have a 48-35-8 advantage in the series.


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