Capitals to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

The Navy Midshipmen take on the Pittsburgh Panthers during the 2015 Military Bowl at Navy Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD on December 27, 2015. (Ben Solomon/American Athletic Conference)

Naval Academy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk confirmed to The Capital this morning that the Washington Capitals will play an outdoor game in Annapolis.

Gladchuk said a contract has been signed with the National Hockey League to have the Capitals host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

"We think it will be a really special event, both for the Naval Academy and the City of Annapolis," Gladchuk said on Sunday morning. "Personally, I think it will be a lot of fun. It will be great for the city, great for the local economy."

According to several reports, the NHL will make the official announcement on Monday.


Gladchuk said NHL officials initially approached the Naval Academy Athletic Association with a concept of conducting outdoor games at all three major service academies. Nothing official has been announced, but it is believed that Army West Point might host a future game involving the New York Rangers at Michie Stadium while Air Force would host one at Falcon Stadium involving the Colorado Avalanche.

"The NHL folks called us and said they wanted to do something with a military tribute theme. From what I understand, the concept involves games at Army, Air Force and Navy," Gladchuk said. "For whatever reason, the NHL approached us first. We've been in negotiations for a long time and it all came to a head last week."

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium has a listed capacity of 34,000, although attendance has exceeded that figure for certain events. A Navy-Air Force football game on Oct. 5, 2013 set the stadium attendance record of 38,225. The Navy football media guide lists nine other attendance figures for football games that exceeded 36,000.


Washington defeated Toronto in the first round of the 2017 playoffs, making it an attractive contest. Gladchuk envisioned getting members of the Brigade of Midshipmen to attend to have a Naval Academy presence.

"I think we have a great matchup with Washington hosting Toronto," Gladchuk said. "I think it is realistic to think we will sell out the stadium. The Capitals will market the game to their season constituency. We'll market to Navy fans and folks in the surrounding area."

Gladchuk said the game will be an NHL production in conjunction with the Washington Capitals. Naval Academy Athletic Association will handle game operations, concessions, parking and such.

"The NHL will take care of putting down the ice rink and setting up the competitive environment to their standards," Gladchuk said. "We will administer everything off the ice."

The Capitals have participated in two outdoor games and were victorious in both. Washington played the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park in D.C.

The Capitals-Maple Leafs game will not serve as the annual Winter Classic put on by the NHL. The league announced earlier this month that the 2018 Winter Classic will be played between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field in New York City.

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium has hosted a variety of athletic events beyond Navy football and Navy lacrosse, the primary tenants of the facility. The Chesapeake Bayhawks professional lacrosse franchise plays home games there while there has been Olympic soccer and US World Cup women's lacrosse in the past.

"It's a novelty event. It will certainly be historic based on the fact we've never hosted a hockey game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium," Gladchuk said.

Civic organizations representing the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium have complained about certain events held there in the past. The Admiral Heights Community Association and Germantown-Homewood Civic Association both objected to Nitro Circus Live, the action sports production that has been scheduled for Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in July, 2017.

"It's an athletic event so it fits within the purview of the stadium so it is certainly permissible," Gladchuk said. "This is going to be a very positive event for Annapolis. I don't think there is any question it will provide an uptick for local businesses, hotels and restaurants."