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Annapolis to host football bowl game this December

May. 21, 2013 - 02:04PM   |  
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* History: Began in 2008 as the EagleBank Bowl. Became the Military Bowl in 2010 when Northrop Grumman took over as title sponsor.
* Navy record: The Mids lost 29-19 to Wake Forest in the 2008 game.
* Match-up problems: Teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Conference USA are scheduled to play at Annapolis in December, but the last two seasons, the bowl has been forced to pull from other conferences — all bowl-eligible ACC teams committed to other bowl games, and service academies who’d agreed to play were not bowl-eligible (Navy in 2011, Army in 2012). Air Force filled in for the Mids in 2011, falling to Toledo 42-41.

The Naval Academy will be the first-ever service school to host a college football bowl game on campus this December — and the name couldn’t be more appropriate.

The Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman will move from its home of the last five years, RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., bowl organizers announced Monday. The move aligns with the game’s goal to support the military and their families, said Steve Beck, Military Bowl committee president and executive director.

“There’s something special about playing at an academy, and college athletes understand that,” Beck said. “The ones that I’ve spoken with have stressed that it’s a different feel when you get to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.”

From the academy’s perspective, the Dec. 27 game will serve as a recruiting tool — for spectators, not players.

“The primary focus has to do with bringing more fans to introduce them to the stadium and the community in the hopes that we can engage them in the fall and they’ll become fans of the academy and fans of the football program,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said.

The bowl will pay the Naval Academy Athletic Association a fee for the direct costs associated with putting on the game, like parking, concession operations, electricity and use of the field, Gladchuk said. It will also pay “a small percentage above and beyond direct costs” that will go into a fund for the stadium used to pay for maintenance, Gladchuk said. The bowl would keep any profits from television, ticket sales and sponsorships.

Last year, San Jose State beat Bowling Green 29-20 at RFK stadium in front of 17,835 fans — the lowest attendance of all the bowls, USA Today reported. About 25,000 fans were on hand the year before to watch Toledo edge Air Force 42-41. Navy-Marine Corps Stadium holds 34,000.

The bowl will donate 5,000 tickets this year to military personal and their families, as it has in previous years, Beck said.

Both Gladchuk and Beck said they hope the partnership between the NAAA and the Military Bowl will stretch beyond December — including the 2015 game, when the Naval Academy will play in the bowl if it finishes with a .500 record or better.

“I think it’d be terrific, we love the stadium,” Gladchuk said. “If we earn the opportunity through eligibility to play in 2015, we’d be happy to play in Annapolis.”

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