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2020 Army-Navy game will be played at West Point, not Philadelphia

The game is being moved from Philadelphia because of restrictions on attendance limits for outdoor events in the state of Pennsylvania.

2019 Army-Navy game
Mitchell Northam / Against All Enemies

For the first time since 1943, the annual football game between Army and Navy will not be played at a neutral site.

Army AD Mike Buddie and Navy AD Chet Gladchuk announced Friday that the 121st edition of the game will be played at West Point’s Michie Stadium on Dec. 12.

The game is being played at Army and not Navy simply because the Black Knights were designated as the home team for this year’s game. The two academies swap being the home team each year.

According to a press release from Army athletics, the game is being moved from Philadelphia due to attendance limits placed on outdoor events in the state of Pennsylvania. Because of these restrictions, the entire Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen would not be allowed to attend.

“We want to thank the City of Philadelphia, the Eagles and all involved in the planning for their efforts to navigate this historic game in the current COVID-19 climate,” Buddie said in a statement. “We are excited about this historic opportunity to host Navy and the Brigade inside the gates of West Point for the first time since 1943.”

Since that 1943 game, the Army-Navy game has always been played at a neutral site. Philadelphia has hosted the rivalry 89 times, first featuring the game in 1899. The game has also been played in Baltimore and New York, once in Chicago in 1926, once in Pasadena, California in 1983, and once in Landover, Maryland in 2011.

The first-ever Army-Navy game in 1890 was played at West Point and the campus has hosted the game three times, each one ending with a win for Navy.

“The health and welfare of the Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen is the number one priority,” Lieutenant General Darryl A. Williams, 60th Superintendent of the USMA, said in a statement. “Hosting the Army-Navy Game on West Point will be the safest way for the Cadets and Midshipmen to cheer their teams to victory.”

At recent home football games this season, Army has allowed the Corps of Cadets to attend and the state of Maryland has allowed the Brigade of Midshipmen to attend Navy games.

Army’s press release said it is “unlikely” that fans beyond the Cadets and Midshipmen will be allowed to attend the Army-Navy game.

“History will repeat itself as we stage this cherished tradition on Academy grounds as was the case dating back to World War II. Every effort was made to create a safe and acceptable environment for the Brigade, the Corps and our public while meeting city and state requirements,” Gladchuck said in a statement. “However, medical conditions and protocols dictate the environment in which we live. Therefore, on to the safe haven of West Point on Dec. 12, and let it ring true that even in the most challenging of times, the spirit and intent of the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets still prevails.”

The game is still set to kick off at 3 p.m. on Dec. 12 on CBS. Navy leads in the all-time series, 61-52.