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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Indoor football has had some moderate success across America. The Arena Football League (AFL) is not quite major league level, but it has proven to have some merit in the sport. And all sports need a minor league experience, whether it is to get players ready for the next level, or just to establish a larger fan base.
American Indoor Football (AIF) is one of those minor leagues that have spread across the land. The current league was relaunched in 2012, although has been playing in one form or another since 2005. The Baltimore Mariners, a former local team, was champion of the league in 2014, while the Baltimore Blackbirds played in 2007. Both of those teams played in the arena now known as the Royal Farms Arena.
Baltimore has had some amazing football success over the years. The Baltimore Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Stallions (CFL), and Baltimore Stars (USFL) all have held championship banners over the largest city in the Old Line State.
The newest Baltimore based football team is the Maryland Eagles. Formerly known as the Washington Eagles, the AIF team is now playing at the 500 seat William J. Myers Pavilion in the south Baltimore Curtis Bay neighborhood. The arena is owned and operated by the city of Baltimore and is more commonly used for soccer games.
Curtis Bay is most often known as the home of a major United States Coast Guard base. It is the coast guard's sole shipbuilding and major repair facility, and part of the Coast Guard's core industrial base and fleet support operations.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is not much food offered at Myers Pavilion. Consider eating before the game as you will feel a bit hungry otherwise.
There is a small snack stand that is there mainly to feed the soccer players who spend their time here everyday. Soda is for sale for $1.50 and $.75, while candy is $1 and $2. Chips are $.75 and donuts $.75. The best part is the sign that said there was "no hot food" on the day of the game. Obviously they must sell hot dogs and other "hot" items usually, but not during my most recent visit.
There are also some soda machines in the lobby. But the best bet is to wait and eat later.
The William J. Myers Pavilion is just not designed for football. There are no yard markings, which makes it the only football game I have ever witnessed to not have those. There are temporary yard markers along the field walls. It makes for quite a unique setting. I hope that if the Eagles were to become a success, that a temporary football designed turf could be installed for games.
There is also netting that surrounds the entire field. It can make watching the game a tad difficult. Think back on high school baseball games where you have had to watch through metal grates and you get a bit of the idea.
Besides the netting, there are actually some good views from the seats. There are just a few rows of simple plastic bleacher seats sitting on the east end of the playing surface. No one sits far from the action. And when you see a large football player get driven into the wall, like a hockey player, it makes quite a dramatic impact. And the small crowd will go wild.
The scoreboard was working inconsistently the night I attended. Also, the lack of a PA announcer made it pretty difficult to follow the exact game action. It certainly is a unique atmosphere, but still entertaining.
It also seemed that clock stoppage rules were being used inconsistently as well. It did make the game go by quickly, although it did confuse the crowd a bit.
Curtis Bay is primarily a residential neighborhood, surrounded by some industrial operations and the coast guard base. There just is not much around the arena that you will want to venture or spend much time in.
Glen Burnie and the local area around nearby Ritchie Highway may be the best option for pre and post game activity. For quick food, the best options are Wingstop at 6710 Governor Ritchie Highway, Checkers (1417 North Crain Highway) and Maria D's Sub Shop at 111 North Crain Highway. Mo's Seafood Factory (7146 Ritchie Highway) may be your best bet for a little higher level of dining. Cafe Bretton in nearby Severna Park (849 Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard) may also be worth a drive for some fine French dining.
The team has one really good thing going for it, and that is the fans. Baltimore is a football loving city, so the Eagles have already done a good job of filling the small arena. Many of them are family and friends of the players, but either way the games can get loud.
Curtis Bay is located south of Baltimore city. The bottom end of the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) is less heavily trafficked than other sections. The Key Bridge is also in this direction and makes easy access to Curtis Bay.
There is free parking at the arena on the nearby streets or at the elementary school across the street.
Tickets are a decent value at $10 each. Group rates are also available.
This is not the highest level of sports, but at that price level it makes sense to support a group of people trying to live out their professional dreams.
The uniqueness of the arena and the game atmosphere is alone worth the price of admission.
The Eagles offer youth activities and clinics before many games. And the players are very accessible for autographs and pictures during post games. Kids will love this kind of thing.
Attending a Maryland Eagles game will be one of the most unique sporting events that a fan will attend in their lifetime. Just don't expect to see a major league caliber sports event. Instead just relax, and you will enjoy your time at the William J. Myers Pavilion.
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6710 Ritchie Hwy
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
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