This week, the Army and Navy football teams announced future venues for their next five football games. Charlotte, after being a finalist, was not selected.
This year’s game is scheduled for Philadelphia in December. From 2023 to 2027, the US Army and Navy will play in Boston; Washington D.C.; Baltimore; New Jersey, then back to Philadelphia. Based on the six-year schedule, the game will retain its historic Northeast footprint.
In April, officials from both academies visited Charlotte for a site visit. As word spread, other tourist attractions in the city were excited about the possibility of the game calling Queen City home at some point before the 2028 season.
In a statement, Charlotte Sports Foundation Executive Director Danny Morrison wrote: “While we are disappointed the Army-Navy game is not happening in the South, being a finalist reinforces that college sporting events in high level are important for Charlotte. The Charlotte Sports Foundation appreciates the incredible support the bid has received from our partners, and we thank both academies for their consideration and time.
It’s unclear based on the statement whether Charlotte will attempt to host a game in the next rotation, which would begin in 2028.
A U.S. Navy Reserve commander in Charlotte said he was disappointed with the two academies’ decision not to hold a game in the south.
“Horrible bad news. Hope we get it next time. But, it’s a shame that we don’t diversify our cities a bit and come down here and let the country see what’s going on in the Southeast. I mean, it’s been in the northeast for a long time, Charlotte owes its turn,” Joe Vogelbacher said.
Vogelbacher is the president of Sugar Creek Brewing and is in his 19th year in the naval reserve.
“I like the challenge in the Navy, maybe that’s also why I’m in the beer business, because I like the challenge, but I like to travel, meet new people and work with high caliber people is always fun. You know, I’ve traveled the world and done all kinds of things that you would never normally do in the civilian world,” Vogelbacher said.
He’s been making beer for nine years and says it’s a fun and creative way to put his engineering skills to work. Vogelbacher went to the Merchant Navy Academy for college and served in combat areas during Operation Enduring Freedom.
“I was supposed to be there for a year, I was there just under 114 days,” Vogelbacher said of his time abroad.
Between his beer business and his experience in the Navy, he expressed disappointment that the Army-Navy football game wasn’t happening after all.
“I’ve spoken to some of my Navy colleagues, everyone’s super disappointed,” Vogelbacher said at his brewery on Thursday.
Growing up in New Jersey, Vogelbacher said going to the game was a tradition and a spectacle.
“We were, I don’t know, 15 minutes from the Betsy Ross Bridge in Philadelphia, and the Army-Navy game has always been a Philadelphia staple. I love going there, I’ve been there many times,” Vogelbacher added.
Despite his disappointment, Vogelbacher said his fandom was unaffected.
“No matter the heartbreak, go Navy, drink Sugar Creek,” Vogelbacher said with a smile. Two other brewers on his team were from the US Marine Corps and the US Army, and Vogelbacher said they were also disappointed with the announcement.
The game would have been an emotional and financial success for Vogelbacher, had it worked. The Charlotte Sports Foundation said the impact of hosting a future Army-Navy game would have been similar to the Duke’s Mayo Classic in 2021, which featured a Clemson and Georgia game.
Sugar Creek general manager Marques Nash said a tailgate for Georgia fans, held in the brewery bar, was one of their best nights in nine years.
“You are honestly, comfortably seeing a 40% increase on everything from food to alcohol to [merchandise] and retail. I sold more t-shirts this weekend than I think I’ve ever sold in months combined,” Nash said.
Despite the U.S. Army and Navy’s decision, college football will return to Charlotte in the fall of 2022 with this year’s Duke’s Mayo Classic, featuring the Aggie-Eagle Classic to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The game with NC A&T and NC Central will begin on September 3 at Bank of America Stadium.