2020 Army-Navy football game is moved from Philadelphia to West Point
By KEN MCMILLAN | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: October 23, 2020
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WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — As if the year 2020 wasn't crazy enough.
The annual Army-Navy football game has been moved out of Philadelphia over pandemic concerns, and moved to West Point's Michie Stadium, site of the first meeting between academy rivals in 1890.
The Dec. 12 game will still be televised by CBS at 3 p.m., and it is likely no paid spectators will be allowed, as per season-long protocols at Michie.
"We want to thank the City of Philadelphia, the Eagles and all involved in the planning for their efforts to navigate this historic game in the current COVID-19 climate," Army director of athletics Mike Buddie said in a statement.
"We are excited about this historic opportunity to host Navy and the Brigade inside the gates of West Point for the first time since 1943."
Officials from the City of Philadelphia, which has hosted the affair 89 times, said limits on gatherings at outdoor events during the COVID-19 pandemic would not allow the entire Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen to attend the game — the pre-game traditionally features a march on of the students. That will not be an issue on the post at West Point, which has instituted a bubble for entrance to the West Point grounds.
"The health and welfare of the Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen is the number one priority," said Lieutenant General Darryl A. Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy. "Hosting the Army-Navy Game on West Point will be the safest way for the Cadets and Midshipmen to cheer their teams to victory."
Army will be looking for its first home victory in the series as Navy won the encounters at West Point in 1980 (24-0), 1892 (12-4) and 1943 (13-0). Navy leads in the all-time series, 61-52, after posting a 31-7 win in Philadelphia last season, snapping a string of three consecutive Army wins.
"Unfortunately, we will not be allowed to visit the home of Army-Navy this December," said Navy director of athletics Chet Gladchuk. "History will repeat itself as we stage this cherished tradition on Academy grounds as was the case dating back to World War II. Every effort was made to create a safe and acceptable environment for the Brigade, the Corps and our public while meeting city and state requirements. However, medical conditions and protocols dictate the environment in which we live. Therefore, on to the safe haven of West Point on Dec. 12, and let it ring true that even in the most challenging of times, the spirit and intent of the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets still prevails."
The COVID-19 pandemic has limited fan attendance for most pro and college sports since mid-March. Some NFL and college football games are allowing for crowds this season, though with mass reductions for social distancing purposes. Major League Baseball recently allowed for fans at the National League Championship Series and current World Series in Arlington, Texas.
College football saw cancellations of entire conferences, though, most notably, the Big Ten, Pac 12 and Mountain West conferences changed course on their initial decisions and have initiate late-autumn play. Army and Navy, however, were granted waivers due to the mission of the respective academies. As an independent school, Army had to cobble together a new schedule after nine opponents pulled out — the Black Knights managed to add nine new foes, but lost a September game vs. Brigham Young due to a COVID outbreak on the BYU campus.
Navy plays in the American Athletic Conference so the Midshipmen retained eight league contests, got BYU for its opener and retained the Commander-in-Chief Trophy games against Air Force (a 40-7 setback on Oct. 3) and Army.
"For service academies, athletic competition is essential to developing tough, resilient leaders with competitive mindsets who are prepared to serve our country in uniform. There is no better representation of that than the Army-Navy Football Game each year," said the U.S. Naval Academy superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck. "We will miss the warm welcome the City of Philadelphia provides to Army and Navy fans, however, we are thrilled to continue this longstanding tradition by playing the 121st Army-Navy Game at Michie Stadium at West Point this year."
The Army-Navy game has been played in 15 stadiums in 10 cities. Philadelphia has hosted at Municipal/John F. Kennedy Stadium, Franklin Field, Veterans Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field. New York City has hosted at the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium. Baltimore has hosted at Municipal Stadium and MT&T Bank Stadium. The game has also been played at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; Chicago's Soldier Field; Pasadena's Rose Bowl; Princeton's Palmer Stadium and Landover's FedEx Field.
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