Cancellation of the Naval Academy's football game against the Air Force Academy on Saturday due to the federal government shutdown could mean fewer field trips and enrichment programs for some Annapolis school children.
The PTA at Germantown Elementary School, located across from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, expected to make $12,000 on Saturday from parking cars in its lot, said Karma O'Neill, PTA board secretary.
The money is shared between Germantown and the nearby Phoenix Center, a school that offers special education and alternative education, O'Neill said.
As a result of the federal government shutdown, sporting events at the nation's service academies have been canceled. A decision on the fate of the Navy-Air Force game — which is sold out and is scheduled to be shown on nationally on CBS — is expected by noon Thursday.
Germantown's PTA uses money it earns from Navy football parking for children who can't afford field trips, and also to supplement its special education and English for Speakers of Other Languages budgets. The funds also pay for family events such as an international night and a winter carnival. The school has more than 700 children, half of whom are below the poverty line, O'Neill said.
"The money raised goes directly to the kids," she said.
A PTA meeting planned for Wednesday night was supposed to focus on last-minute logistics for parking cars for the sold-out game, but O'Neill said pending the decision on the game, the focus is now, "Do we need to go back and revisit what our budget is?"
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said this week that not hosting the game could cost the academy "in the millions" in ticket revenue, sponsorships, donors and other revenue.
Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen said Navy games also offer an economic jolt in town that would be lost.
"It would be devastating to our economy. Forty thousand people are coming into Annapolis for it. Every room from Annapolis to Baltimore is booked," he said. "It may be just a football game, but it brings in millions of dollars to our local economy."
Cohen said he spoke with a downtown restaurateur who had a 25-person banquet related to the game cancel. The mayor said he expects that situation to be repeated at businesses around town.
Sean O'Neill, president of the Annapolis Business Association and husband of Karma O'Neill, said he expects hotels, caterers and bus companies that cater to Navy fans will be hit worst if the game is canceled.
"The ripple effect from this is massive," he said. "More like a tsunami."
O'Neill thinks some stores and businesses in downtown might fare OK because the annual U.S. Powerboat Show will be running all weekend, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the City Dock area.
Cohen said there's more than just dollars that will be lost from a canceled game.
"It's good for morale," he said. "Annapolis is an area that has a lot of respect for our military. The game is a healthy celebration of good competition and our military values."
Reporter Don Markus contributed to this story.
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