President Donald Trump will attend the Army-Navy game Saturday, the third time in a row and final time he will attend the game during his four-year term.
Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk confirmed the president’s attendance during a Board of Visitors meeting Monday morning.
“The president’s going to make it,” Gladchuk said. “I just found out a few moments ago he’ll be at the game.”
The White House has not confirmed the president’s attendance. Last year, a spokesperson for the president announced his appearance on Twitter.
The Army-Navy game will be played in Highland Falls, home to the United States Military Academy. It is being played on a college campus for the sixth time, with the last time on the academy grounds in 1943 due to World War II. The game was played at the Naval Academy in 1942.
The game is being played at Army this year because of restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of the president, the only fans in the stands will be the Brigade of Midshipmen and Army cadets.
It is Army’s year to host, Gladchuk said, which is why the game will be at Army.
Even though the game will be held at West Point, the stadium will still have an air of neutrality.
”The field has been changed,” Gladchuck said. “The way we’re seated, spacing, even the hospitality accommodations, are all split right down the middle.”
Trump previously attended the game twice as president, as well as in 2016 as president-elect. Last year, he used the game to promote new policy that would allow midshipmen and cadets to defer their service requirements in order to play in pro sports leagues, the Associated Press reported. He is the 10th commander-in-chief to attend the game.
The tradition involves the president tossing the coin to determine who receives the kickoff, then spending half the game with one side before crossing the field and spending the second the other side.
Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to attend in 1901, taking a special train from Washington to Philadelphia for the game, which Army won 11-5. He attended again in 1905.
President Barack Obama attended the game in 2011 and President George W. Bush attended in 2001, 2004 and 2008.
President-elect Joe Biden attended the game while serving as vice president in 2011 with Obama and again the next year, when he presented the Commander in Chief’s Trophy to Navy after it stunned Army 17-13..
Navy (3-6) is looking to take home a win for the second year in a row. Navy won in 2019, ending Army’s three-year streak. Navy currently leads the series 61–52–7. Navy has only won once when Trump has attended.
The Army-Navy rivalry first started in 1890, according to previous Capital reporting. The game was suspended by President Grover Cleveland in 1893 due to a brawl but brought back six years later by President William McKinley. The only time the game was not played was in 1917 and 1918 during the first World War. The game was played in 1963 but delayed due to President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Brian Witte of the Associated Press contributed to this story.