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Terry Hasseltine Optimistic Army-Navy Will Return To Baltimore

January 16, 2017
Terry Hasseltine would be happy with an Army-Navy re-run.

The last time the service academies picked sites for their annual football showdown, they awarded two games to Baltimore and M&T Bank Stadium, one game to FedEx Field in Landover, Md., and four games to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. 

That seven-year deal will expire after next season's game at Lincoln Financial Field, and interest is percolating from across the country in bidding for the next games.

Before this last deal, the academies had typically picked sites for the next five years.

"We are definitely pursuing the next go-round of the Army-Navy game," said Hasseltine, executive director of Maryland Sports, the agency charged with bringing regional, national and international sporting events to Maryland. 

Hasseltine said the Ravens are the point on the bid effort since they would be the hosts for the game, and the Maryland Stadium Authority, Maryland Sports, the city of Baltimore, Visit Baltimore, and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts "are all helping us to put our best foot forward."

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk and Army athletic director Boo Corrigan met with representatives of potential game hosts in Baltimore before December's game. They'll make site visits this spring, and an announcement is expected to come in May.

Ten cities are said to have interest in playing host to the game. Besides Philly, Baltimore and Landover, they are Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle.

"It's supposed to be a five-year bid cycle," Hasseltine said. "And knowing that Philadelphia is the unofficial home for the game, I really think we're looking at getting two games in Baltimore and one at FedEx Field. There is some intrigue from destinations in the Midwest and west. I wouldn't be surprised if they extend the bid cycle like they did the last time."

It's not hard to imagine more than 90,000 fans at Jerry Jones' Taj Mahal (AT&T Stadium) in Arlington, Texas, watching the game. And it's not hard to imagine Jones wanting another high-profile event for his high-profile stadium.

It's also not hard to imagine Army and Navy wanting to stage the game in San Diego or Seattle, cities with significant military presences. 

The last time the Army-Navy game was played outside of Maryland or Philadelphia was in 2002, when it was at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That stadium, which was demolished in 2010 after what's now MetLife Stadium was built, also hosted the 1997, 1993 and 1989 games.

The last time the game was played west of Catonsville was 1983, when it was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

"One of these years, someone outside the I-95 corridor is going to be blessed with this opportunity," Hasseltine said.

One of the major impediments to moving the game a big distance is the entire Corps of Cadets and the entire Brigade of Midshipmen have to be transported to the site. It's not cheap to fly some 9,000 future military officers across the country. 

"Someone has to take on the cost of freighting that," Hasseltine said.

Additionally, those Cadets and Midshipmen, along with other officials from both academies, actually get to sit in the stadium. And they don't pay for their tickets.

"We have to concede 12,000 seats," Hasseltine said, adding M&T Bank Stadium, which has a capacity of about 71,000, has about 59,000 seats available to sell for the Army-Navy game. Obviously, that problem diminishes with bigger venues (like Jones' AT&T Stadium).

The last time bids were awarded, Maryland was aided by anniversary celebrations of major events in U.S. history, Hasseltine said.

FedEx Field was awarded the 2011 game, in part, because it coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And Baltimore's pitch for the 2014 game was based, in part, on the 200th anniversary of the end of the War of 1812, when the Star Spangled Banner was written in Baltimore Harbor.

But even without a historical anniversary peg this time around, Hasseltine is optimistic the game will return.

"The way we're set up here in Baltimore, with 10,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the hotel, and another 10,000 just a light rail ride away at BWI, it's a spectacle," he said. "We start the walk-on of the Cadets and Midshipmen at Oriole Park, so we don't lose any prime parking spots, like they do in Philadelphia."

Hasseltine said economic impact numbers from the 2016 game are still being accumulated, but he said in 2014, the city benefited from $7.5 million in direct spending and $3.2 million in indirect spending. Some $1.13 million in state tax revenue and $300,000 in city tax revenue was generated.

"And the media exposure in 2014, with [ESPN's pre-game show] College GameDay here, was exponentially higher than normal," he added.

Army-Navy Cities where Army-Navy games have been played:

Philadelphia, 86*
New York, 11
Baltimore, 6
East Rutherford, N.J., 4
West Point, N.Y., 3
Annapolis, Md., 3
Princeton, N.J., 1 
Chicago, 1
Pasadena, Calif., 1
Landover, Md., 1
*2017 game scheduled for Lincoln Financial Field

Issue 229: January 2017