SOUTH BEND — What many speculated became official Tuesday morning: the Notre Dame-Navy game scheduled to be played in Dublin, Ireland will not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the game will be played on Navy’s campus in Annapolis, Maryland, for the first time in series history. The game is also moved from its Aug. 29 set date to someday over Labor Day weekend, whether it be Saturday, Sept. 5 or Sunday, Sept. 6. The official date and kickoff time will be announced in the future. The game will be broadcast on ESPN or ABC.
The news was first reported by The Capital Gazette in Annapolis and confirmed with press releases from both Notre Dame and Navy.
“Our student-athletes have had great experiences competing in Ireland and are very disappointed not to be returning to Dublin in 2020,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “The change of venue has been a very difficult decision for our colleagues at the Naval Academy, but we are in full support of their choice. We are also grateful for everything our partners in Ireland have done to make this a smooth transition. We look forward to going back to Ireland for a game in the not-too-distant future.”
“We are obviously disappointed not to be traveling to Ireland this August,” Navy AD Chet Gladchuk added. “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. Once we have a definitive plan in place, we will announce the specifics pertaining to the game.”
This will be the 94th contest between Notre Dame and Navy. The Fighting Irish hold a 79-13-1 advantage in the series, including a 52-20 victory over the Midshipmen last year at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame and Navy played in Avilla Stadium in Ireland to open the 2012 season, with the Irish routing the Midshipmen, 50-10. That game saw more than 35,000 people in attendance. An estimated 40,000 people were expected to attend this year’s contest. ESPN’s weekly morning college football show, “College GameDay,” was also set to take place from Dublin.
There was no word if fans will be able to attend this year’s game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 34,000.
West Noble’s Brandon Pruitt — who signed to continue his academic and football career with the Naval Academy in December — wasn’t surprised by the news. While he’s upset he won’t get the chance to make the trip to Ireland, he’s excited for an opportunity to be part of hosting the Irish for the first time.
“Honestly, I think it’s a good opportunity to play them at home,” Pruitt said. “I don’t know how much I’ll be able to contribute the first year but, even helping on scout team and special teams, I think I can play a big role in helping get our team prepared. I think playing in Annapolis will give us an advantage because, obviously, when you have thousands of people cheering for you instead of the other team at a neutral site, it’s an advantage.”