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The annual Army-Navy football game will be in Baltimore, not at Veteran's Stadium, next year. South Broad Street is apparently not south enough for the organizers of the annual Army-Navy football game. The game, traditionally played in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, will be played in Baltimore next year, at the new PSINet Stadium. Next year's change of venue has created a stir among military spokespeople and Philadelphia's politicians. In line with the city's contract, Army and Navy are able to play every fourth game in a city other than Philadelphia. An unfortunate event at last year's game, however, has led some observers to contend that there was more than a simple contractual clause behind the two academies' decision to move the game to Maryland. Nine Army cadets were injured when the railing they were leaning on collapsed and sent the group tumbling 15 feet to the field below. In Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer, both Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell and Army's Assistant Athletic Director Wayne Boy claimed that the incident last year had no influence on the decision to move the game. On Monday, Rendell told the Inquirer that the change of venue is part of the "regular contract" and an option that the Army and Navy have exercised regularly. "We knew with Baltimore building a new stadium, Baltimore would have a shot at the game," Rendell added. Boy stressed that the collapsed railing "had no bearing whatsoever on the decision to play in Baltimore." He added that since the last two games played outside of Philadelphia were held in East Rutherford, N.J. -- a location relatively close to West Point -- it made sense to play the game at a venue closer to Annapolis, Md., the home of the Naval Academy. But the move has implications that reach far beyond the year 2000 game. Philadelphia's contract with Army and Navy expires in 2002, and the competition for which city will ultimately get the annual game will likely be fierce. Baltimore's new PSINet Stadium has garnered critical praise and has so far been a success for that city. Rendell is hopeful that Philadelphia's own plans for a new football stadium will all but secure for Philadelphia the contract, a deal that could bring as much as $10 million in annual tourism to the city. "Had we not built a new football stadium, I think we would have been in real danger of losing [the game] to Baltimore," Rendell said. Thomas Muldoon, president of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that a new stadium for Philadelphia "seems to be likely," but did concede that, until a new stadium is built, Philadelphia has a "disadvantage from a facilities standpoint." The other venues are newer stadiums with larger seating capacities. The game's ultimate locale has yet to be decided. According to Muldoon, the game's organizers -- namely the two service academies -- "have made it clear that there's no rush to negotiate a contract extension," especially with Philadelphia's stadium plans still up in the air. Muldoon is not especially concerned about ultimately losing the contract. The only thing that may change, said Muldoon, is the number of consecutive years the game will have to be played in Philadelphia. Muldoon cited as strong advantages both Philadelphia's tradition with the game and the Vet's close proximity to the hotels, restaurants and bars that have been popular meeting places in the past. "These people don't walk away from tradition very easily," said Muldoon. He also explained that, while the newer stadiums in Maryland and New Jersey offer slightly more profit potential, Philadelphia has more social space for parties and reunions. "Meadowlands games were financially successful, but not as 'artistically' successful [as games in Philadelphia]," Muldoon said. The Philadelphia Convention and Vistors Bureau President explained that fans who left the Meadowlands were less likely to meet after the game because "everybody went in separate directions." Philadelphia is also centrally located between West Point and Annapolis, a fact that gives the city "the best location," according to Muldoon. Facilities which may ultimately vie for the game currently include Veterans Stadium, the Meadowlands, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Md., and Baltimore's PSINet Stadium.

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