With the bidding process having just closed for Army-Navy games from 2010 to 2014, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter said today that the city has pushed hard to keep the game here in coming years.
“I think that we'll have a tremendously competitive bid,” Nutter told reporters during the second quarter of this afternoon’s game. “We're going to be aggressive in retaining this game because we think it belongs here.”
The Inquirer reported earlier this week that the other cities bidding for future Army-Navy games are Baltimore (the 2007 host); Landover, Md.; East Rutherford, N.J.; Foxborough, Mass.; Pittsburgh; and Indianapolis.
Nutter said that Philadelphia has a built-in advantage over all of those markets because it has hosted 81 of the 109 meetings between the two academies.
“People know that the Army-Navy game is a Philadelphia tradition and belongs in Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “Many of the folks who are in leadership positions now were in the service and came to the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia. They've now brought their families and some of them, their children are in the stands right now, or are out on the field playing.”
While the City’s budget crisis has led Nutter to push for dramatic cutbacks in public spending, the mayor said he did not think the city’s economic woes would put it at a disadvantage in the bidding process.
“The economics that have hit Philadelphia are not unique to this city,” he said. “All the other cities across America are experiencing the same thing. So as far as I'm concerned, that's a wash.”
Among the reasons why the city is willing to push so hard for the game: the “30-plus million dollars in economic activity” that the game generates each year, according to Nutter.
“Over 50,000 vistors come to Philadelphia - probably every hotel in the city is sold out,” he said, adding that there are “more hotel rooms in downtown Philadelphia than [in] any other city that's trying to compete against us.”
“I think in terms of any one game, other than probably the World Series with the Phillies, I don't know that there's any ballgame that brings as many outsiders to Philadelphia, especially in terms of our hotel and restaurant activity,” the mayor said.
As a result, Nutter said, the city “is going to do what we need to do” to keep the Army-Navy game here. “This is very, very important to Philadelphia and the region.”