By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Army-Navy football game will be played in the Washington metro area for the first time on Dec. 10, 2011, when FedEx Field hosts what will be the 112th edition of one of the most storied rivalries in sports.
Baltimore (2014, 2016) and Philadelphia (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017) also were awarded upcoming games.
"We determined that we had three cities that were all comparable in many ways in their commitment to the game," Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk said. "We decided to capitalize right now on this wonderful opportunity to keep Philadelphia as the traditional home of Army-Navy, but also interject a little bit of diversity in location and venues and what each city has to offer."
Philadelphia has been the site of 81 of the 109 games between the military academies; its Lincoln Financial Field (capacity of 67,594) will host this year's game Dec. 12. Since 1984, just two cities other than Philadelphia have hosted the game: Baltimore (2000 and 2007) and East Rutherford, N.J. (1989, 1993, 1997, 2002).
FedEx Field, which can seat more than 90,000 people, could draw one of the biggest crowds in the game's history; in 1983, 81,347 watched Navy beat Army in the Rose Bowl. Navy has played four games at FedEx, most recently against Air Force in October 2003.
"The fact that we have nearly half a million folks that live here that are active or retired military -- this gives them such great pride and access to the game that they don't really have in Philadelphia," said Robert T. Sweeney, president of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance. "It's not that Philadelphia is far away, because it's not. But there's only 68,000 seats up there. There's 92,000 here. It gives more people the chance to go. For that reason we're really excited. It's kind of a way to say thank you to the military."
The Philadelphia Sports Congress estimates that each game generates $35 million in total economic impact and fills more than 17,000 hotel room nights in its region, based on the 50,000 visitors it attracts. Though the game will be played in Landover, the economic impact will largely be felt in the District, according to Sweeney. The teams will be housed in downtown hotels, and most of the events will take place in the city.
"We want to take advantage of the backdrop of D.C.," Sweeney said. "It's really the thing that will make Navy and Army say, 'Wow, we've got to come back there again.' This oughtn't be a one-time thing."