Complaints had targeted stadium Army, Navy may review future at Veterans in wake of near-tragic accident


Complaints about deteriorating conditions at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium had long preceded Saturday's Army-Navy game mishap in which a railing collapse sent nine fans hurtling to the AstroTurf field -- including a West Point cadet who suffered a fractured bone in his neck.

The accident may prompt the Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy to review whether they will play future games at the 27-year-old stadium. A contract between the academies and the city of Philadelphia for use of Veterans Stadium expires in 2002.

"It's definitely something that's going to be addressed, but it hasn't been looked at yet," said West Point spokesman Capt. John Cornelio. "I'll guarantee you we're going to make sure something like this never happens again."

Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel said the stadium's condition is "a concern."

"But I'm hoping the city can resolve this issue quickly," Lengyel said.

Seven minutes remained in Saturday's game -- the 99th between the schools -- when Army scored a touchdown to take the lead from Navy. Nine students leaning over a front-row railing to cheer as a CBS cameraman taped them plunged forward as the railing appeared to snap from the pressure.

The group fell headfirst to the field, 15 feet below.

The game was stopped for 31 minutes while ambulances took the injured to a nearby hospital. Four were West Point cadets and five were students at West Point's prep school. Eight had been released by yesterday afternoon. Injuries included sprains and bruises.

The worst injury was to a 21-year-old cadet, Kevin Galligan, who broke a bone in his neck. He was transferred last night to West Point's hospital, but was scheduled to be released today.

The broken railing was connected in one spot by duct tape.

Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell told the Associated Press after the game, which he attended, that the collapsed railing would prompt an inspection of the stadium's safety.

"If there's anything wrong, we'll fix it," Rendell said. "We're going to check the stadium infrastructure, as well."

The Army-Navy game has been played 15 times at the Vet, but academy officials in recent years have discussed finding a new location once the contract expires. Last year's game was played at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Pub Date: 12/07/98

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad