The 2000 Army-Navy football game will be played at Baltimore's PSINet Stadium, and may be held in the Washington-Baltimore area more regularly beginning in 2003, when the most celebrated rivalry in college sports likely will switch to a home-and-away format.
While plans to hold the 101st edition of the game at the Baltimore Ravens' home in Camden Yards were unveiled during a news conference here today, officials from both academies strongly indicated that they will not renew their contract with the city of Philadelphia following the deal's expiration in 2002. Under that arrangement, the academies have been playing primarily at Veterans Stadium, which will be the game's site in 2001 and 2002.
"In our new contract, we're probably going to go to a home-and-home series, which will allow Army to select their site and Navy to select ours," Navy Athletic Director Jack Lengyel said.
Lengyel named PSINet Stadium and Jack Kent Cooke Stadium as the prime candidates to host Navy's home games in the series, which could be held exclusively at one of those sites or rotated between the two on an annual basis. Navy recently signed a deal to play its next three home games against Air Force at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, where the Midshipmen's game against Notre Dame last season drew a sellout crowd of 78,844. PSINet Stadium played host to Maryland's game against Georgia Tech last season.
Army's deputy athletic director, Col. Wayne Boyd, said his school is considering Veterans Stadium and Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., as possible sites for its home games in the series.
"We would be open to bids by a lot of cities that would want to entertain the game," Boyd said. "A lot of it would depend on the wishes of the superintendents of both institutions."
Lengyel said the railing collapse that occurred during the fourth quarter of last season's game at Veterans Stadium and sent 10 spectators to Philadelphia-area hospitals, though a concern, has not played a role in decisions about future sites for the game.
Navy officials "are coming from the standpoint that we want to service our particular fans in this area, plus we want to play on grass," Lengyel said. Playing Army in Baltimore in 2000 "will allow us to play in both [PSINet and Jack Kent Cooke] stadiums and make a good evaluation for future games, including Army-Navy."
Army and Navy have met in Baltimore twice, most recently in 1944. Navy last played in the city in 1988, when it met Notre Dame at Memorial Stadium.
Playing the 2000 Army-Navy game in Baltimore did not require a change in the academies' current 13-year contract with Veterans Stadium, which is owned by the City of Philadelphia. That arrangement, which began in 1990, gave the schools the option of playing elsewhere three times during the life of the contract. The game was played at Giants Stadium in 1993 and 1997.
"We were concerned that they not move it in 1999 because that's the centennial year of the game, so we expected 2000 would be year" the academies chose to play elsewhere, said Kevin Feeley, spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell. "The good thing for us is that the game returns to Philadelphia in 2001 and 2002, and we believe that fact, plus the long-standing relationship we have [with Army and Navy], will give us a leg up when it comes time to negotiate a new contract."
Feeley said Philadelphia, which has hosted the game 74 times, has spent approximately $50 million on improvements to Veterans Stadium over the past six years. Also, the city is seeking funding for two new stadiums, one of which would be a football-only facility that could open by 2002 or 2003.
Officials of the Maryland Stadium Authority, which operates PSINet Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and Ravens officials began working to bring the game to Baltimore when Navy indicated in early January that it was interested in exercising its final option in the academies' contract with Veterans Stadium. Lengyel said the bulk of his negotiations took place with Ravens owner Art Modell and Ravens President David Modell.
"This isn't just a football game -- this is a large weekend's worth of activities," said David Modell, whose organization is responsible for managing the larger special events held at the facility. "This is a signature event. It's not Maryland-Georgia Tech."
Navy Coach Charlie Weatherbie said the prospect of the game alternating between as many as four sites rather than being anchored at one wouldn't take away from the venerable series.
"It's a great game with a great tradition," he said. "I think we could take this thing to China and play."
Special correspondent Jeff Seidel contributed to this report.