- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FedEx Field will host the Army-Navy football game in 2011, marking the first time the storied event will be held in the D.C. area.

The two military academies announced Tuesday that the Washington Redskins’ home field in Landover will be part of an eight-year rotation that also includes Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Philadelphia will host the game in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2015. The game will be played in Baltimore in 2014 and 2016.

The push to bring the Army-Navy game to FedEx was spearheaded by the Greater Washington Sports Alliance in conjunction with the Redskins and local tourism officials. The alliance, which worked with Navy to bring the NCAA Frozen Four hockey championships to Verizon Center in April, had bid to host the game for as many as five years.

“We have nearly half a million retired military people in the greater Washington region,” GWSA president Bob Sweeney said. “This is a huge opportunity to go to a game that really honors their service. Philadelphia is just up the road but has 68,000 seats. We have 91,000 seats and can hold one-third more people. Hopefully this will provide a great viewing opportunity for those people.”

Sweeney said the alliance is already in talks with officials from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on plans for the Army-Navy gala.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuck said the D.C. area had been a bidder for the game in past years but that this was the first time academy officials were successfully persuaded to hold the game here.

“They really stepped up this time around,” Gladchuck said. “They just did a wonderful job of presenting the city and presenting the venue. … The sport alliance has great credibility with us. They had their act together. They really wanted this event.”

Historically, the Army-Navy game has been played in Philadelphia, which hosted it every year from 1945 to 1982. Since then, it occasionally has been held at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and other locales. Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium first held the event in 2000 and hosted it again in 2007.

The game is one of the longest-running traditions in sports. The two academies began playing one another in 1890 and have faced each every year since 1930. The Army-Navy game is usually played on the last Saturday of college football’s regular season. Beginning this year, the game will be held the second Saturday of December, ensuring that it is the only contest that day.

Navy holds a 53-49-7 edge in the series. The Midshipmen have won the last seven contests, including last year’s 34-0 victory.

• Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com.

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