Army-Navy game ships out in 2010

The Army-Navy game has been scheduled for deployment to Iraq.

The annual game pitting the football team from the United States Military Academy against its counterpart from the U.S. Naval Academy will go overseas for the first time in 2010, a joint press release issued by the two schools announced Sunday.

“The world is going global at an accelerating rate, and this is a chance for us to expand our footprint overseas and showcase this great rivalry to a whole new audience,” said Vice Admiral Jeffrey L. Fowler, the superintendent of the Naval Academy. “It’s a chance to reward the Iraqi people for their perseverance in the fight for democracy, and it’s also an opportunity to give something back to the brave men and women serving our nation in Iraq.”

The game, one of college football’s oldest and most-treasured rivalries, will be played in a brand-new stadium in the heart of Baghdad’s Green Zone on Dec. 4, 2010. United States Navy Seabees are scheduled to break ground on the $1 billion Freedom Field at Halliburton Stadium in the spring of 2008, the press release said.

busharmy1.jpgFunding for the 80,000-seat stadium is included in the $196 million war spending bill that President George W. Bush is urging Congress to pass before session breaks for Christmas.

“Members of Congress have only a few weeks left before they head home for the holidays,” Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address to the nation. “Before they start trimming their turkeys and stuffing their trees, I urge them to do their job: fund our troops, protect our citizens and give the long-suffering people of Iraq a world-class, state-of-the-art football stadium that they can be proud of.”

The Army-Navy game was played in Baltimore on Saturday. Philadelphia, due to its geographical location roughly between the military academy in West Point, N.Y., and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., has played host to 80 of the 108 games of the series. The Army-Navy game has also been played in New York, Chicago and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. But it’s never been played outside the continental U.S.

“With violence rapidly decreasing in and around Baghdad and freedom on the march across the length and breadth of Iraq, we are happy to bring this great football game to the sports-loving people of Iraq,” said Secretary of the Army Pete Geren. “Army and Navy, why that’s just American for Sunni and Shiite. I only hope that when the butt-kicking is done in Baghdad on Dec. 4, 2010, the Black Knights of the Hudson will stand victorious.”

The first Army-Navy game was played in 1890. The Navy holds a 52-49-7 advantage in the series and has won the last six games. The 2008 and 2009 contests will take place at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.

“At last, a bit of good news,” Army linebacker Brian Chmura said Saturday after the Navy pasted the Black Knights for an unprecedented sixth straight time, 38-3. “I know if I’m over there in 2010, I’ll do my best to get to Baghdad and cheer on the brave old Army team.”

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