Rhode Island will have big role in helping host Army-Navy football game

THE ARMY-NAVY FOOTBALL GAME will be coming to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Dec. 9, 2023. Rhode Island is planning various marketing opportunities to attract visitors coming for the game to the state. / COURTESY ARMY-NAVY GAME VIA TWITTER

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island will play a significant role when Gillette Stadium plays host to one of college football’s oldest traditions in December 2023.

The Foxborough, Mass.-based 68,000-seat home of the New England Patriots announced Wednesday that it will host the 2023 Army-Navy football game on Dec. 9, bringing the century-plus-old football rivalry to the New England region for the first time.

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau said in a statement that bringing the Army-Navy game to Gillette comes after years of efforts from local elected officials around New England and the Kraft Group. Last year, the game was played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

About a half-hour south from Gillette, the Ocean State will be welcoming U.S. Navy members and their families, with the hopes of increasing tourism to the state during the holiday season.

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The R.I. Convention Center will host approximately 3,000 U.S. Navy midshipmen overnight for the game, the PWCVB said, with Providence serving as a de facto headquarters for Navy family and alumni traveling from Annapolis, Md., for the game. The convention center’s plan to house the midshipmen was part of the bid to bring the Army-Navy game to New England, PWCVB said.

“This bid has been a truly collaborative process, encompassing elected officials, law enforcement and emergency management teams from two states,” said Daniel P. McConaghy, executive director of the R.I. Convention Center Authority, in a statement. “We have a firm handle on the logistics necessary and consider it a privilege to host these young men and women.”

THE R.I. CONVENTION CENTER will host approximately 3,000 midshipmen coming to New England for the Army-Navy football game at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 9. / COURTESY FLICKR.COM
THE R.I. CONVENTION CENTER will host approximately 3,000 midshipmen coming to New England for the Army-Navy football game at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 9, 2023. / COURTESY FLICKR.COM

PWCVB CEO and President Kristen Adamo told Providence Business News the midshipmen will be housed on the convention center’s exhibition floor, with beds set up inside the center. Food services will also be provided to the midshipmen at the convention center during their stay, Adamo said.

From there, Adamo said PWCVB and other local tourism organizations will market other local hotels, both in the city and around the state, to those attending the game, with an emphasis toward those affiliated with the U.S. Navy. She said there may be some from the U.S. Navy who may stay in the city, but West Point in New York is close enough distance to Rhode Island that they are likely to drive to New England on game day and back.

Adamo said there will be some other “strategic marketing” that will be done by local hospitality advocates and organizations to increase tourism opportunities for those coming to Rhode Island for the Army-Navy game. She said many people coming for the game will be visiting the Ocean State for the first time and the plan is to “incorporate the entire state” for opportunities to explore what the state has to offer.

“I think the natural synergy between the Navy and Newport will certainly lend itself to visiting the southern part of the state,” said Adamo, who said she will soon connect with Discover Newport, as well as R.I. Commerce Corp. and the Rhode Island Sports Commission, to come up with strategies to promote the state.

“We’ve hosted March Madness [in Providence] multiple times, so there’s already a built-in infrastructure,” Adamo said. “It’s just deploying that and doing a little bit more because of the enormity of the game.”

Additionally, Adamo said the game could provide significant boosts for local hotels needing revenue and still recovering from COVID-19-related impacts. She said December is typically a slow period with hotels due to the holidays. With the game being held a couple weeks before Christmas, “the timing could not be better” for hotels, Adamo said.

In a statement, Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza said along with it being “an honor” to welcome military members and their families to the city, the Army-Navy game will be “a great economic booster” for the city’s hospitality community.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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