The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is forcing one of college football’s most storied rivalries to take place from a neutral site to a home game for one of the participants, and this hasn’t happened since World War II. The annual Army-Navy football game is being moved this year from Philadelphia to Michie Stadium in West Point, NY.

For several years the annual rivalry game has been held in either Philadelphia at the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field or in Baltimore at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium.

Philadelphia was supposed to be the host again this year for the 121st meeting of the storied rivals but the pandemic has thrown another curve at us. Due to COVID-19, the city of Philadelphia has placed limits on the number of people that can attend outdoor public events. Therefore, neither the entire Army Corps of Cadets nor the Naval Academy’s Brigade of Midshipmen would be able to attend.

Pennsylvania has set the outdoor public restrictions that limit the total number of people allowed at Lincoln Financial Field to less than 10,000. On the other hand, the Baltimore Ravens just began allowing fans into M&T Stadium. They established a limit of 7,500 people, which included players, coaches, and event staff. 

Nevertheless, the Army has allowed fans into their home site of Michie Stadium thus far this year. Therefore, the annual game will be held there on December 12. Although many protocols are still being implemented, it is expected that the entire school bodies from both academies will be able to enter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that any fans will be allowed in.

No city has hosted the game as many times as Philadelphia. It has been held 89 times at Lincoln Financial Field, Veterans Stadium, Franklin Field, or JFK Stadium. The Navy last hosted the game in 1942 during World War II. The following year, the Army hosted. Since then, it has been at a neutral site. 

“Of utmost importance to us throughout this entire process was the health, safety, and welfare of the Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen. 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,” said Army athletic director Mike Buddie in the statement. “We are excited about this historic opportunity to host Navy and the Brigade.”

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West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams said that hosting the “Army-Navy Game on West Point will be the safest way for the Cadets and Midshipmen to experience” the event.

“As has been decided, we will not be able to visit the home of Army-Navy this December,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. “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. 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 will be televised by CBS Sports on December 12 at 3 p.m. ET. Navy leads the all-time series with West Point, 61-52-7; it has won 15 of the last 18 games. The game is slated to return to Philadelphia in 2021.