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At Maryland Pride Tour event, Terps coaches stress importance of Baltimore

Mark Turgeon: "Baltimore is a great city with great fans, very supportive ... especially Maryland basketball."

The next-to-last stop on this summer's Maryland Pride Tour hit the Inner Harbor on Thursday night, and the message from Randy Edsall, Mark Turgeon and Brenda Frese was consistent: Baltimore is an important part of the athletic department's growth.

Aside from the city's ties to Under Armour, which has used its relationship with the Terps to help become a national apparel brand, the three coaches said Baltimore plays an integral role in their respective programs.

Edsall's football team will play for the second time in his five seasons at M&T Bank Stadium when the Terps face Penn State on Oct. 24. Two years ago, Maryland defeated West Virginia, 37-0, in its first trip to the city under Edsall.

'It's part of that branding that we want to do, in terms of that Maryland Pride. To have a game here at M&T is significant," Edsall said at Thursday's event for fans and boosters at the Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor hotel.

"It's significant for the people here in Baltimore. It allows us to draw more people from maybe up into Pennsylvania and all that. It helps us in recruiting. It's something that our kids are looking forward to."

Edsall said the Penn State game is a substitute for what would have been an Atlantic Coast Conference game against Virginia Tech last season, , but he does not expect the Terps to play a neutral-site game every year.

"You have to have seven homes to be able to take one off campus, so we won't have seven home games every year," Edsall said. "Because of the contract with the suites, we have to have a mandatory six games at Byrd Stadium."

The men's basketball team is expected to make its first visit to the city under Turgeon on Dec. 19 when the Terps, one of the favorites to reach the 2016 Final Four, play Princeton at Royal Farms Arena.

It will mark the program's first game in Baltimore since 1999. The game's contract is pending approval by Maryland.

"We've been trying to play in Baltimore since we moved here [in 2011]. Baltimore is a great city with great fans, very supportive of Maryland, especially Maryland basketball," Turgeon said. "If we can, we're trying to make it work."

Ellicott City resident Dave Crabtree, a 1991 graduate of Maryland and former student manager on the men's basketball team, was ecstatic when he heard that the Terps would be coming back to Baltimore.

"It definitely helps with men's basketball. Some of the games are on later at night. Getting there [to College Park] for a 9 o'clock game is tough," Crabtree said. "Having a game here in the community is a plus for local fans, and we're playing Princeton; it's an attractive opponent. I think it's a great idea."

This season will be the first in eight years and only the second in the past decade that the Maryland women's basketball team won't play in Baltimore. The Terps will play Loyola Maryland in College Park as part of a home-and-home series.

Frese said that "we want to play as many teams regionally as want to play us," and that coming to Baltimore, even against lesser competition, is worth the trip.

"I feel like we'll get their best shot; they're fired up to play us," Frese said. "It also gives fans up in Baltimore a chance to support both teams. It's a really important element to us, playing the regional teams. That's a big deal."

Since he made his first trip to Baltimore as Maryland's athletic director, for a football game against Navy shortly after he was hired in 2010, Kevin Anderson has recognized the Terps' opportunities in the city.

"When I first stepped on campus, one of the first things people told [me], and I understood quickly, was how important Baltimore is, not only for support and fan base and alumni, but also for recruiting," Anderson said.

Anderson said that when the chance to play Penn State in Baltimore came up — something the Terps did for three straight home games between 1987 and 1993 — "we jumped on it."

"It's very important to have this presence going into the second year in the Big Ten. It's great for the state of Maryland, great for Baltimore and great for College Park," Anderson added.

Crabtree can't wait for the rematch with the Nittany Lions.

Maryland's 20-19 victory over Penn State in State College last season, highlighted by a pregame confrontation that led the Terps' game captains to refuse to shake hands with their Nittany Lions counterparts, was just the second for the Terps in the series' 38-game history.

"I'd rather have that game at Byrd because that's a home game. I'd rather play a neutral game in Baltimore than a home game" at Penn State, Crabtree said. "That being said, I think it's going to be a terrific environment. We're undefeated against Penn State this century. We're going to keep it that way."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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