IT SHOULDN'T have taken a near-tragedy at the Army-Navy game to improve Baltimore's chances of playing host to this classic American sports event. But Baltimore merits strong consideration after last weekend's game, in which nine cadets fell 15 feet when a railing held by tape gave way at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. But the accident reopens the question of whether a new location can better serve Army-Navy. The contract in Philadelphia expires in 2002.
The pact already allows for the game to be played elsewhere every four years. Most recently, that has been at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in 1989, '93 and '97.
The new stadium at Camden Yards could ably host the 101th annual game in the year 2000. The academies should extend their contract a year so they could exercise an option to change the location of that year's game. The Baltimore Ravens have an exclusive lease at Camden Yards but may be willing to sublease the stadium, as they have for some college and high school matchups this fall.
Army-Navy extends into American society as few sporting events do. The concept of always holding it midway between Annapolis and West Point, N.Y., seems at odds with the game's global reach. After all, the telecast customarily includes shots of sailors and soldiers cheering their teams from around the world.
In the long term, playing the game in Baltimore or, occasionally, at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, would make it just as accessible to Army and Navy partisans, perhaps more so, given the proximity to the Pentagon and other installations.
These academies are not football factories. The young men involved are disciplined, skilled, enthusiastic and clean-cut. What better city to host this rivalry than one renowned for hard work, fair play and well-behaved fans?
Pub Date: 12/10/98