The Naval Academy’s iconic stadium will undergo a massive transformation for inaugural NHL debut

naval academy stadium

Midshipmen cheer as the Navy Blue Angels fly overhead during the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2012 graduation and commissioning ceremony. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge/U.S. Navy)

By Meg Schweitzer

The Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland will host an outdoor game between the Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs next season, the NHL announced Monday.

The contest takes place on March 3, 2018, as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

This will be a first for any service academy, but will likely not be the last, according to Military Times.

“Our gratitude to the NHL and their administration for allowing us to host this special event and tribute to the military, and most especially the Naval Academy,” U.S. Naval Academy Director of Athletics, Chet Gladchuk said in a statement.

“Conducting this matchup in Annapolis will allow us to bring together our midshipmen, many from the Fleet, and the local community to enjoy a day of exciting action and add another chapter in the annals of our stadium’s history.”

The Naval Academy’s news release described plans “to stage a series of outdoor games at the venues of the other respective U.S. Service Academies” over the next several years.

“We’ve made no secret of how interested we are in playing games at both the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs. We’ve had productive discussions with both and are focused on reaching formal agreements in the near future,” said Steve Mayer, the NHL’s executive vice president and chief content officer, to Military Times.

An Air Force Academy athletics spokesman confirmed preliminary discussions with the NHL, Military Times reports. A request for comment from the Army West Point athletics department, however, was not immediately returned.

In October 2016, West Point hosted a preseason NHL game between the New Jersey Devils and the Florida Panthers, a club owned by Vincent Viola.

There was also a military showdown at the Verizon Center as part of Army-Navy week in December 2016. A combined Army and Air Force hockey team led by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, earned a 5-3 win over a team of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard players captained by the Naval Academy’s superintendent, Vice Adm. Ted Carter.

Both Milley and Carter played college hockey, Milley at Princeton and Carter (aka “Slapshot”) at the Naval Academy.

navy army hockey

U.S. Navy Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter plays in a joint services hockey game at the Verizon Center in Washington. (Petty Officer 2nd Class George M. Bell/U.S. Navy)

“We look forward to welcoming the Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans to beautiful Annapolis next March for the first-ever outdoor hockey game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said in a release.

“Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium will be a unique and historic setting for fans from all across our region to experience what promises to be a great hockey game. We are honored to have the opportunity to play at one of the very best institutions our region, and our country, have to offer: the United States Naval Academy.”

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