By Arnie Leshin
No Philadelphia for the annual 121st Army-Navy Service Academy football classic in 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic standing in the way, and the game The Naval Academy team won’t be reeling in the warm welcome from its nearby naval yard, and neither it or the Army will be hearing the cheering of their supportive fans.
Instead, the academies have agreed to move the game to Michie Stadium at West Point. The original site in Philly, now the Lincoln Financial Field, had already announced that attendance to any events there would have limited attendance, and because of the COPID-19 threats, it was decided on taking the game from the Liberty City to the picturesque stadium close-by the Hudson River in upstate New York.
Also, medical conditions and protocol dictate the environment that we live, and so that’s why the final decision was made and confirmed. It will be seen on the FOX network, and with a scheduled kick-off set for 3 p.m.
Informed of this, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, in his 13th season in that role and 19th at Annapolis, said that he was preparing for Saturday’s conference game at home against Houston, and that it’s good the service academy game will be played, and Michie Stadium would be just fine, and also his first time there.
Hopefully, officials said, this will be a one and done, that next season will be back to normal, which is no doubt the wishful wishes of everyone.
The first time this classic was played was in 1890. Navy has won 61 times, Army 52, and the Midshipmen have won 15 of the last 18. It has been a rotation and that is why it is Army’s turn to play host. Only the Cadets and Midshipmen will be allowed into the stands, no citizens, and West Point said it will be able to seat about 10,000 for this game set for Saturday, Dec. 12.
Navy officials said that their Navy-Marine Corps Stadium has allowed spectator limitations, with about 10,000 the limit, but added they hoped they won’t have to host this game next year, for there’s nothing like the full houses at sites in Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Baltimore. They announced that approximately 4,500 Midshipmen would be bussed, and that hopefully there’s no stress on the round trip that is expected to be some three hours each way.
No anchors away, just bussing for Navy. For Army, nothing like being home. Yes, it will be different, but a chance for those through the years who have sat through wind, rain, snow and capacity crowds, to just turn on the television or the radio and relax and root, root, root for your team in one of the most popular sports events contested each year.