The Naval Academy will host its first-ever bowl game this year, as organizers announced Monday the move of the 2013 Military Bowl from RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis in December.
"This move puts our game into a facility that honors the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces," said Steve Beck, DC Bowl Committee president and executive director. "The big benefit for other schools coming in, if you talk to college players, playing at a military academy is unique and special. It was one of the primary reasons we chose the Naval Academy's stadium. The other reasons, it aligns perfectly with what we're trying to do with the USO. It's also a fit for our title sponsor, who happens to be the largest sponsor, Northrop Grumman."
The game, originally called the EagleBank Bowl, pits an Atlantic Coast Conference team against a team from Conference USA or one of the service academies. But last year Bowling Green, a team from the Mid-American Conference, played San Jose State from the Western Athletic Conference.
The Spartans beat the Falcons 29-20 before just 17,835, a new low for the bowl game. It was played Dec. 27 and the cold, sometimes snowy weather could have contributed to the low attendance.
The 2013 Military Bowl will be the first bowl game ever played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which opened in 1959. Though the game will be played in Annapolis, the other events will remain in Washington, D.C.
"The Naval Academy Athletic Association is very pleased to host the Military Bowl," Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. "Those who attend will find Memorial Stadium to be historic, fan friendly, and designed to promote a wonderful family environment. This partnership is appreciated and we will extend ourselves on every front to ensure this is a great experience for our guests and the visiting teams. We look forward to this special event in December."
Added Beck: "The Navy was very instrumental. As a matter of fact, they were involved before I was involved. I think Navy wants to see the game succeed and they want to help in that regard. It's not a simple thing for them to pull off. They'll be at a bowl game every year at that time."
The name of the game switched to the Military Bowl when defense contractor Northrop Grumman took over sponsorship in 2010.
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The game's largest crowd (more than 38,000) was in 2010 when Maryland beat East Carolina 51-20 in Ralph Friedgen's final game as coach of the Terps.