news-record.com

NEWS

Aggies expect full house for N.C. Central

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
(Updated Saturday, July 19, 2008 - 1:08 am)

GREENSBORO -- Think of homecoming without the parade or the other ancillary events. An oxymoron? Sure. But that's the sort of crowd and stadium atmosphere N.C. A&T officials anticipate Saturday when the Aggies (0-3) will play host to N.C. Central (3-1) for the first time in 16 years.

The Aggie-Eagle Classic, which became its own contradiction in terms when the third-party organizers failed to deliver on financial guarantees, has died and been replaced by a conventional home-field arrangement. Central's first trip to Greensboro since 1991 is expected to produce a sellout, even though tickets remained available Monday afternoon, and A&T administrators say they're preparing accordingly.

Security, ticket-sales agents and other game-day personnel will be at homecoming levels for a rivalry that drew an announced crowd of 35,000 at N.C. State's Carter-Finley Stadium in 2005. Aggie Stadium seats 21,500.

"I've heard about the Aggie-Eagle Classic because my grandfather used to talk about it," said A&T defensive end Keith Holiday. "It brings a lot of pride and school spirit out. This is going to be fun."

The series will be played for the 79th time in a history that began in 1924 and has shifted from campus to neutral sites before. A fight in the 1950s compelled a move to Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium, where, in one memorable game, a man drove his car right onto the field and parked at the 50-yard line. At least he had the good sense to wait until the previous play had been whistled dead.

"He left the motor running," said Spencer Gwynn, A&T's radio play-by-play man of four decades. "And he was quickly apprehended by the gendarmes."

In its most recent reincarnation, the game was run by a tax-exempt outfit known as the Capital Area Sports Foundation, which guaranteed each school $150,000 for the 2005 matchup. In its tax return for that year, the foundation reported more than $160,000 in payouts to A&T, but the university said it has received less than $100,000 and doesn't expect to see anything more.

"We can probably kiss that money goodbye," athletics director Dee Todd said Monday.

A year ago, Lawrence Wray, the group's chief administrator, said the foundation had run out of money, but it reported remaining assets of $12,285 as of Dec. 31.

The arrangement clearly is better for A&T now that it has cut the middle man out of the equation. That should hold true for a two-year period, even though Central gets next year's gate receipts. If A&T sells only 10,000 general-admission tickets this year, it will take in $200,000 and won't have to wait for anybody else to cut a check.

"You go to the Aggie-Eagle and you're dealing with a third party," Todd said. "Here, the gate is ours."

The Eagles surely understand. Last week, the West Alabama said that its game with Central, scheduled for Oct. 6 in Birmingham, Ala., had been canceled because of a "breach in the game contract by the Varsity Sports Marketing Group, the game's promoter."

Traditionalists might mourn the further migration of Central-A&T from its roots as the Turkey Day Classic, but future schedules should ensure A&T of at least two home sellouts a year -- one for homecoming and the other from Central or Winston-Salem State, which will alternate appearances at Aggie Stadium.

"The reality is that you've got to look at the financial amounts," Gwynn said.

Contact Rob Daniels at 373-7028 or rdaniels @news-record.com

N.C. CENTRAL AT N.C. A&T

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Aggie Stadium, Greensboro

Radio: WNAA-90.1

Records: N.C. Central 3-1; N.C. A&T 0-3

Tickets: Call 334-7749 or $20 online at http://www.ncataggies.com

eMail Updates

Advertisement | Advertise with Us

Featured Ads

Search

Advertisement | Advertise with Us
Advertisement | Advertise with Us
Advertisement | Advertise with Us

News & Record Network Sites

User Tools

  • Social Networking
  • RSS
  • Share
  • Sign in to MyNR

Search