- The Washington Times
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Navy and Notre Dame brought their football rivalry to the Emerald Isle in 1996 and 2012. It won’t be able to return there as planned in 2020.

Due to travel concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, the Navy-Notre Dame game will not be played in Dublin, Ireland, the two programs announced Tuesday. Instead, they plan to face off in Annapolis, Maryland, for the first time.

“It is the intention of both Navy and Notre Dame to open the 2020 college football season with the 94th consecutive playing of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.,” Navy Athletics said in a press release.

The Capital-Gazette was first to report that Navy and Notre Dame’s longstanding football series will not be played at Aviva Stadium in the Irish capital on Aug. 29, following consultation with the Irish government and medical experts. The game now will be played either Sept. 5 or 6, the Saturday or Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.

Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said more specific details will be announced only when the teams can set them in stone.

“We are obviously disappointed not to be traveling to Ireland this August,” Gladchuk said in a statement. “But, as expected, our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved. I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large.”

Around 40,000 Americans were expected to travel to the game, according to Leo Varadkar, the prime minister of Ireland. Varadkar said in a statement that the country was disappointed to cancel the teams’ visit, but “we hope to welcome both teams back in the near future.”

The 2020 college football season writ large is still threatened due to the pandemic, and Navy-Notre Dame’s move stateside is perhaps the first major change to be announced.

For now, the NCAA is operating under the assumption that college sports will resume in the fall. Division I football and basketball teams were allowed to resume voluntary workouts Monday following a moratorium on such activities imposed during the pandemic.

The Capital-Gazette reported that Navy explored the idea of hosting Notre Dame at the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium, where the game has been played before, but “the likelihood that attendance will be limited made the need for a 71,000-seat stadium unnecessary.” Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium has an official capacity of 34,000.

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