The Army-Navy football game, beset by declining interest at the gate in recent years, will receive a giant injection of revitalized life if a proposal to shift the 1983 game to the Rose Bowl materializes into the envisioned 106,000-seat sellout at $25 a ticket.
Only 60,470 paid $12 to see last year's 3-3 tie at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, the host city to the game since 1945.
The shift, which would be a one-time thing, is the dream of Rolf Arnym, executive vice president of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and a 1953 graduate of West Point. Arnym told the Philadelphia Inquirer Monday that "the bottom line is that the 1983 game will be played in the Rose Bowl."
Correspondence concerning such a move and the academies' requirements has been exchanged for some time, but Bo Coppedge, Navy athletic director, said yesterday that "to the best of my knowledge any positive statement is premature."
Coppedge and Carl Ullrich, his opposite number at West Point, are scheduled to visit Pasadena in mid-January, after the NCAA Convention at San Diego, to look at the Rose Bowl and discuss the proposal.
The decision is likely to be made at a higher level, possibly by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. The issue has become enmeshed in a game of political football, since Pennsylvania's congressional delegation apparently is committed to keeping the game in Philadelphia.
"All the brigade of midshipmen and all the corps of cadets would have to go; it would present a big logistics problem," said Coppedge, who coincidentally was in Philadelphia yesterday to try to boost ticket sales to this year's contest, set for Dec. 4.
If the game is shifted, each academy must be guaranteed that it would earn as much from ticket receipts as it makes in Philadelphia, believed to be about $300,000 apiece. Beyond that, some Navy men see other problems.
Television and its annual $1.1 million payment are one. Coppedge has been forced to lobby hard to keep the game on national TV in recent years, with Army barely competitive. A key factor has been the teams' ability to shift dates and times. Presumably, in Pasadena the date would be fixed and a late Eastern starting time mandated, reducing flexibility for TV.
There is fear that breaking the continuity in Philadelphia, long a gracious host, would affect future dates there. Also, there is skepticism of Arnym's claims. A small crowd, even if Pasadena made up the financial loss, might deal irreparable harm to the game's reputation.
Ullrich told the Associated Press yesterday he is interested in holding the game outside Philadelphia every three or four years, but that "it's a mind-boggling logisitical problem. For that reason, it may never happen."