Army and Navy usually face off on the gridiron in the Northeast United States. But it is felt across the nation.
The game is an annual tradition that has taken place since 1890, usually in Philadelphia. But for the next five years, it is going on the road. In 2023, the rivalry is taking place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. In 1983, the game was played west of the Mississippi River for the first and only time.
“There’s no greater rivalry. Army versus Navy. It goes back 124 times they played. The passion and excitement and the pageantry of it all. There’s no equal,” said United Services Automobile Association (USAA) senior marketing officer Jen Escobar.
Despite the game being played on the East Coast in 2023, fans are engaged across the nation. USAA is helping the game involve fans outside of Foxborough as one of the game’s sponsors. They unveiled a 347-pound bag of tea for the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party at the USS Constitution. The tea bag was made by three veteran-owned small businesses and was donated to Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. Outside of New England, USAA has worked to engage markets like San Diego, Seattle, and Washington D.C. through social media.
“We like to not only show what we’re doing, this time in Boston, but showing across the U.S. we’re supporting the military community and their families… It’s trying to elevate the game so that not only can you experience it here in Boston or during the broadcast, but all the week’s events across the U.S.,” Escobar said.
Such engagement nationwide has led to high demand for the game in Foxborough. Robert Kraft, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Kraft Group (which owns the NFL’s New England Patriots and MLS’s New England Revolution), said the demand for the game is higher than any AFC Championship or Taylor Swift concert hosted at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s been so supportive and collaborative effort in partnership to bring that spirit of Army-Navy to Boston,” Escobar said. “Tickets, I’ve heard, are quite hard to get even. There’s been a couple of quotes in the Kraft group of how surprised they were, even in comparison to Taylor Swift, so it’s great that we were able to bring it here and partner and have the support.”
After Foxborough, the game will be played at a few other locations over the next four seasons before returning to Philadelphia. The rivalry is on Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. EST. USAA hopes to elevate the game across the United States.
“We try every year to whether it’s in D.C. or Baltimore back in Philly [Philadelphia], but to elevate the game so that no matter where you’re at, so you can feel part of it… We’re already starting to talk about D.C. next year,” Escobar said.