Prince George's Classic President Mike Little has spent plenty of time looking at weather reports this week. After Hurricane Ivan dampened the inaugural Classic last fall, dumping days of rain on the Washington area and delaying some of the game's ancillary events, Little is hoping the rain stays away today and fans appear at FedEx Field to watch Morgan State play North Carolina A&T at 4 p.m.
Last year's game between Howard and Alcorn State drew about 12,000 fans. As of Monday, Little said, advance ticket sales were three times higher than they had been at a comparable point a year ago, and with good weather he said he hoped for a crowd of between 25,000 and 30,000.
Nationally, there are several dozen football "Classics" pitting historically black colleges and universities; some have permanent matchups, some vary annually, and most feature accompanying events that have little to do with football. There have already been a golf tournament and a welcome reception this week; last night's schedule included a battle of the bands at the University of Maryland and a comedy show in Laurel, and today's scheduled events include a fashion show, a black college expo and a pregame party featuring DJ Kid Capri.
While last year's poor attendance left the game's future in doubt, Little said he has long-term plans and would like to be drawing 50,000 fans by year five or six.
"We're in a great demographic, we have one of the nicest stadiums in the country, we have a large [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] alumni base, we have discretionary income," he said. "We think this is one of the best markets in the country to build a classic, and many classics take years to build."
Morgan State's roster includes more than a dozen players from Prince George's County, and Coach Donald Hill-Eley said the game should help with area recruiting.
"A lot of kids have looked at that stadium and have dreamed of playing in it, and now they'll get that opportunity," he said. "I would love to be in that particular game every year."
-- Dan Steinberg