|Baltimore relishes its role in Army-Navy football tradition|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 20 November 2007 11:47|
The payoff comes next week.
Thousands of tourists will spend millions of dollars during a four-day celebration highlighted by the 108th meeting between the two service academies on Dec. 1. Just as important is the prestige of hosting the event.
``This is a very big score for the Baltimore region,'' Mayor Sheila Dixon said Tuesday. ``It puts Baltimore on the map.''
The game has been held in Baltimore three times previously, the last in 2000. Philadelphia has been host in five of the last six years, the exception being the 2002 game at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.
Army-Navy moves back to Philadelphia in 2008 and 2009. After that? Well, it won't be long before the bidding begins.
``We had such a great experience here in 2000. Baltimore earned this opportunity to be host of this event,'' Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said. ``At the end of this season we're going to start to entertain the future with regard to Army-Navy and the host sites. I can't speak for (Army athletic director) Kevin Anderson, but I know that Baltimore has Navy's vote.''
The 2007 game will be played at the home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, who hosted Tuesday's news conference promoting the sold-out event.
``We will try to get the game back,'' Ravens president Dick Cass said. ``We'll have to work with the city and state. They were part of the last bid, and they'll have to be part of the next bid.''
More than 70,000 fans will fill the stadium on Dec. 1, but the Ravens are responsible for paying the stadium staff and providing the service academies their share of the gate.
``This is not an event where we make any money. We're hoping to break even, basically,'' Cass said.
Events leading up to the game include a display of Navy ships and Army helicopters at the Inner Harbor; an Army-Navy pep rally; a parade of thousands of Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen through Camden Yards three hours before the opening kickoff; and a parade of boats around the Inner Harbor the following day.
Philadelphia has been home to the game 80 times. It is more of a neutral site than Baltimore, which is less than 30 miles from the Naval Academy in Annapolis. So Army will seek its first victory over the Midshipmen since 2001 in front of a crowd weighted with Navy fans.
``I think you could play this in a parking lot. It doesn't matter,'' Army coach Stan Brock said. ``People make a big deal about home field, and this is a lot closer to them than it is to us, but once you put your hand in the dirt and the game starts, it doesn't matter where you are.''