Final Score: Air Force 13, Navy 16 (OT)
Weather: Clear and Cool, Ticket Price: $21 Stub Hub
“But where’s the Ocean?” by Tree
The Navy stadium is a small but classic in design. It is pretty Spartan in amenities but makes up for it with atmosphere. There is bench seating in a large part of the arena and you can even sit on the lawn at one end zone. It has a video screen. But, the ambiance is what it is all about at these games. The marching in of Midshipmen is always a patriotic and inspiring sight. I think pregame fly-bys are a fairly common occurence. Not surprisingly, the fans are all well behaved and very polite. The Midshipmen put together cheesy videos that are played on the big screen during the game. The only regret is that you can’t see the ocean from the stadium. For some reason, it feels like the stadium should have that kind of view.
The stadium is just outside of Annapolis so there are two options. One is to park in Annapolis and take the very frequent and well-marked shuttles to the game. Or, park in one of the lots near the stadium where folks tailgate. I have always parked in Annapolis because I like to make sure I hit Chick and Ruth’s Deli after the game. The city also has a ton of shops and other restaurants. So if you have a significant other that balks at spending Saturday afternoons watching games, Annapolis offers a nice diversion. Getting to Annapolis itself can be pretty dicey between traffic around D.C. and limited options for getting into the city. I would make sure to build in plenty of spare time in your travel plans.
Since the Army – Navy game is played on a neutral site, the Air Force game is a marquee event. It is hard to not pay a premium for this game unless you know an alum. I took my Dad to this game as he is a Navy veteran. I also brought my sons along so it was a real family affair. While there were not a lot of points in the game, it was still very exciting. As most football fans know, Navy runs the option with precision. The option is high risk, high reward and never dull. Navy scored first with a touchdown, but gave it back shortly later when Air Force had a pick six. The teams then traded field goals. It looked like Navy was going to squeak out a win and secure a weekend pass for the middies, but the Falcons responded with a field goal to send the game into overtime. However, Navy came up strong in overtime and kicked a field goal to win it. The weekend pass was secured.
As I mentioned, we parked in Annapolis and took the shuttle. In our exuberance after the game, we passed our shuttle and decided to walk back. It was a nice night but I soon regretted that as I should not have had my Dad walk back that far. He was a trooper and insisted that he could handle the walk. We made it without incident, but it was a stupid move on my part. However, the long walk did let the crowds thin in Annapolis. It also meant that we didn’t have to wait for a seat for Ruth and Chick’s Deli where we gorged ourselves before the short ride home. Navy home games are not as quite impressive as those at West Point, but they are close. I know my Dad, even as an enlisted man, felt quite a bit of pride being around fellow Navy men. It is also a great environment for the kids and would be a nice part of a long weekend in the Nation’s capital.