Blue-Gray may come to TSU

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2003

All those football fans who were left feeling Blue last December may finally see a silver lining to that Gray cloud.

The famous Blue-Gray All-Star Football Classic may make a return this December after not being played last season. If things work out the way some in Troy want them to, the game could be moved to Troy and Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium.

The Montgomery Lions Club will meet today at noon to decide whether the club will move the Blue-Gray Football Game from Montgomery to Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium on the campus of Troy State University.

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The club owns the franchise to the all-star classic, but discontinued the game in 2003 after losing Kelly Tire, its corporate sponsor in 2001. The club scrapped the game in 2002.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said negotiations to bring the Blue-Gray Game to Troy will conclude today with a vote by the club's membership.

"We had wanted to keep this quiet until the Montgomery Lions Club voted," he said. "The club's directors have approved the move, but it's now up to the membership to cast the deciding vote. They have the final authority."

The Lions Club authorized the sports marketing company Convizion in April to find a new sponsor and a new venue for the game.

Robert Katz, who represents the company and the Blue-Gray game, would not say much about the possibility. He declined comment on most issues, but he did say he was optimistic.

"I'm very optimistic. I'm excited by a lot of things," Katz said.

Lunsford said he is optimistic that the club will vote in favor of moving the Blue-Gray Game to Troy.

"This would be a way to salvage the annual football classic," he said. "Movie Gallery is interested in sponsoring the game at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium. This would be fantastic, not only for Troy, but for all of Southeast Alabama."

Joe Malugent, CEO of Movie Gallery, did not return a voice-mail message.

Lunsford said the Montgomery Lions Club will retain ownership of the Blue-Gray classic, but the contract that brings the game to Troy will also be beneficial to the university.

"Details of the contract will have to be worked out," he said. "The plan is to continue to play the game on Christmas day, but at 2 p.m., not at dinnertime."

Troy State athletics director Johnny Williams declined comment on the possibility, but assistant AD Scott Farmer confirmed that the new stadium has generated some interest from several different places.

"We have been contacted by many people, and we didn't seek them. They came to us," Farmer said.

The mayor did not try to hide his excitement about the exposure an all-star classic the magnitude of the Blue-Gray Game would bring to Troy.

"The Blue-Gray Game would be the only ballgame in the country on Christmas day," he said. "At 2 o'clock, all the gifts will have been unwrapped and Christmas dinner eaten and people will be looking for something to do."

The mayor said he will be anxiously awaiting the decision of the Montgomery Lions Club.

"This is not a battle against Montgomery," he said. "This is an opportunity for our cities to work together to keep the Blue-Gray Game tradition going. We are proud of the facility that we have and believe that the Blue-Gray Game will be very successful here. I am looking at this opportunity as a joint venture that will benefit all of Southeast Alabama for many years to come