Orlando Wants Army-Navy. What Other Cities Would Make Logical Hosts?

This week, Orlando announced interest in hosting Army-Navy in the future. While geographically far from both academies, Orlando makes sense due to the large Naval influence in the area.

Navy has also drawn well in the Sunshine State playing at UCF (44,000+) and at USF (almost 32,000). The Midshipmen also pulled good numbers hosting Notre Dame at the Citrus Bowl in 2000 (47,000+) and at EverBank Field in 2016 (62,000+).

Orlando certainly holds some appeal, but there are plenty of other sites that would make sense for the rivalry, and they can be sorted in a couple of ways.

Strong Army Influence Sites

San Antonio

San Antonio has a large Army presence with Fort Hood only a couple of hours away from San Antonio. Army has played neutral-site games at the Alamodome in the past, facing Texas A&M in 2006 (64,000+), and Notre Dame in 2016 (45,000+).

The Black Knights also visited UTSA last year, drawing over 30,000 fans. That was by far the Roadrunners’ best home crowd for the season, and only the second time in the last five seasons that they’ve reached that plateau.

The Alamodome has ample capacity to host the game, and holding the game in Texas would not be out of the ordinary for Navy, who plays their fair share of games in the Lone Star State.

Plus, there’s the not-forgotten opportunity to recruit in the state of Texas specifically by showing them the spectacle that is the Army/Navy Game.

Arlington

I know that Arlington is not a military town nearly on the scale of San Antonio or even El Paso, but at the same time, just about every major city in Texas is more of a military city than half the country.

Also, everything I just talked about when it comes to doubling your Texas recruiting efforts by adding in the spectacle of the Army/Navy Game now gets tripled by having the game take place in JerryWorld.

Imagine the sales pitch of watching and imagining yourself, a future leader of America, playing the penultimate college football game on its own day on one of the biggest possible football stages.

I just gave myself chills.

Strong Naval Influence Sites

San Diego

With Orlando in the running, San Diego comes to mind as a site that would make sense on the Naval side of things. The Naval presence is almost overwhelming in the Southern California city, as there are over 100,000 military personnel in the city and military spending and other jobs account for 26% of the region’s work. 

San Diego would be a slam dunk if America’s Game is looking for a unique site. The Midshipmen went to three Poinsettia Bowls and hosted Notre Dame in 2018. Even in the midst of a nightmare 3-10 campaign, over 63,000 came out to see the Midshipmen play the Irish.

The support is there if the rivalry wanted to make an appearance in California, but some challenges that could arise include the travel costs the city and economy would have to pay, and the crumbling facility that is SDCCU Stadium, or Jack Murphy Stadium to the purists – though that’s easily solved by waiting until San Diego State has their new stadium finished.

The last time the game was played in California was in 1983 at the Rose Bowl. The game faced multiple logistical hurdles, some of which were offset by Pasadena natives housing Cadets and Midshipmen leading up to the game.

 Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s case is similar to Orlando’s. Jacksonville is home to Navy’s 4th Fleet, and 75,000 active-duty personnel, accounting for 14% of the city’s workforce.

As we mentioned, the Midshipmen are no stranger to the city with their history hosting Notre Dame in front of a big crowd. That said, the hurdles of travel and fees get in the way just like most of these sites.

Historic Sites

Fenway Park

Who wouldn’t love to see America’s Game at America’s Ballpark? The historic backdrop of Fenway Park would be a refreshing change of scenery for the rivalry.

The venerable ballpark has hosted big games in the past, with Notre Dame playing BC there in 2015, and Harvard and Yale taking their rivalry to Yawkey Way in 2018. The park also hosted an Army-Navy baseball game in 2018.

The travel would not be much of a problem for West Point, only about a four-hour drive away, but could cause problems for the Naval Academy as it about seven hours away. The football capacity is small as well – only about 39,000 – though some might argue that a smaller crowd in closer quarters could make for an interesting atmosphere. It could also make for some very happy scalpers since this game usually fills the 69,000+ capacity of Lincoln Financial Field.

Yankee Stadium

Army has an illustrious history at the “House That Ruth Built”, so it would be logical to move the Army-Navy game to the Bronx stadium for a year.

The old stadium hosted the games in 1930 and 1931, which ended the rivalry’s two-year hiatus over eligibility disputes. The game would essentially be a home game for the Black Knights, but that is no different than the times that the game is played in Baltimore.

Travel would not be an issue for either team, but just like Fenway Park, the stadium capacity could be a minor problem as Yankee Stadium holds a little over 54,000.

The Army-Navy game has long called the East Coast and specifically Philadelphia home for much of its existence. However, with cities like Orlando throwing their name in the running, it is only a matter of time before others show interest.

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