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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Army-Navy Game is one of the most iconic sporting events in the United States. The rivalry football game between the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy has been going on since 1890, although has only been played annually since 1899. The game was not held in 1917 or 1918, due to World War I, and in 1929, when the two academies disagreed over player eligibility rules.
Navy leads the series with 61 wins to Army’s 49. There have been seven ties.
Philadelphia is usually thought of as the main home to the game, although starting in 2008 a bidding process has now made the game likely to rotate to various venues. Philadelphia still holds the record for most games hosted with 85, followed by New York City and Baltimore. The game has been held as far west as Chicago (1926) and at the Rose Bowl in Pasedena, CA (1983).
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are many concessions stands throughout all areas of the stadium offering the usual options. Beer goes for $8.50 to $11 depending on the size and whether you purchase a draught or can. There are also some craft beer locations, but beer will be closer to $12 and up. Make sure to check out the self pour vending machines in the north part of the concourse.
Hot dogs are $5, although a few kiosks sell a better grilled version for $6. You will also find a decent Italian sausage for $6 at those same kiosks. A gluten free kiosk is also available.
Regular sodas are $4.25 with a souvenir size available for $6. You will also see some options to get bottled soda, but they will only give it to you with the bottle cap taken off. I guess it does make it harder to throw a full bottle of soda if the cap is off.
Cheesesteaks are found at the general food stands for a decent $9. Tony Luke's cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches are a great option, but will cost a buck or two more depending on options.
Marc Vetri's Pizzeria Vetri located in both the SCA Club and Panasonic Club areas serves rotolo (ricotta cheese, spicy sopressata and marinara sauce) as well as two square pizzas.
Chickie's and Pete's sells their famous Crab Fries for $10.50. Cheese sauce is $2 extra. They also have a very good chicken cutlet sandwich for $9.
There are Dunkin' Donuts coffee stands and Rita's Italian Ice locations scattered throughout the stadium.
The game atmosphere is amazing. There are activities both before and during the game to keep all of the fans engaged.
The game benefits from being held at such a fine facility. The Eagles have nice facilities and offerings for the team and fans.
The Eagles souvenir stands will be closed, but many smaller stands will be available for Army-Navy game merchandise.
The South Philadelphia Sports Complex, which also includes the nearby Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park, is located far from the center of Philadelphia. To really experience the city, you would need to take a subway ride into center city.
There are places close to the stadium still. The Xfinity Live entertainment center is across the street, roughly where the old Spectrum was located. It is overpriced and is not really an entertainment center, but a mess of bars thrown together. Still it has some good food options and a cool 32-foot screen at the NBC Sports Arena.
The famous sports bar Chickie's and Pete's is pretty close to the ballpark on Packard Avenue. There are hundreds of screens and video game options inside here. The food is pretty good too. The Crab Fries are famous here. You can park at Chickie's and Pete's for some games and they offer a shuttle bus to the games ("The Taxi Crab"). Just make sure you follow parking rules, as they will be quick to tow you if you don't.
Some of the best cheesesteaks are located at Tony Luke's on Oregon Avenue underneath I-95. Don't fall for the more touristy Pat's and Geno's. Tony Luke's offers more options with much better flavor. Tony Luke's can get crowded before games and still gets it share of tourists. For a more neighborly experience go to Philip's Steaks at 2234 West Passyunk Avenue. They are located in a safe neighborhood and offer free parking. Philip's also has a surprisingly good cheeseburger for a cheesesteak joint. Just remember you have to buy the drinks and fries at a different window than your main entree, which is a strange and unique Philly tradition.
The rest of Philadelphia is available to you on a short ride away on the Broad Street subway line. A good happy hour suggestion is at Morimoto (723 Chestnut Street) where there are $6 spicy salmon maki and $6 Morimoto martini. Trust an Iron Chef. I would also recommend taking the subway to the Race Vine station and walking down Race Street east until you get to Chinatown. Peek in a random restaurant and try their delectable offerings. David's Mai Lai Wah (1001 Race Street, #1) and Bar-Ly (101 N. 11th Street) are a couple great options. Bar-Ly is Chinatown's first craft beer bar.
Me N Mo Meatballs and More (214 South Street) is a great restaurant specializing in meatballs and the pasta and other accompaniments that go along with them. It is cash only, but you will enjoy the simple settings. The dive bar atmosphere of Good Dog Bar & Restaurant (224 S 15th Street), where their Mac and Cheese with Corn Flakes comes with an amazing blueberry cornbread. A few other great options are the charcuterie with cheese, duck pot pie and buffalo shrimp po boy.
This game means the world to the teams and fans in attendance. Everyone has a side. "Go Army! Beat Navy!" and "Go Navy! Beat Army!" are chanted and shouted almost non-stop before and during the game.
Even with the emotions of the game, there is a respectful tone. This is not a crowd that will fight over their emotions. These are respectful fans who take pride in their teams, as well as their nation.
The sports complex is located right off of I-95, with massive parking lots in the area. Even with big crowds, there should be no problem with access. Parking will not be cheap, but it will be convenient, as there are over 6,000 spaces available throughout eight lots at shockingly high price of $35 a piece.
If using public transportation, you will likely find yourself using the only corporate-sponsored subway station that I know of, the AT&T station of the Broad Street Line.
The Army-Navy game may not be the cheapest game around. It is a desired ticket for many fans, so expect to pay a decent amount of money. That, coupled with pretty expensive parking, means the game will not be cheap. But for the experience you will get, the price seems fair and reasonable.
It is the Army-Navy game, so that is probably extra enough as it is. But there are other reasons to attend.
Stay outside the stadium to witness the walk of the Cadets and Midshipmen into the stadium. then get inside to watch the formations form on the field. It is well worth attendance just for this.
The game will always have a good flyover pregame, whether it is Army helicopters or Navy jets that you prefer. The Navy and Army will also always have skydivers jumping into the opening ceremony.
Both the Navy and Army have ships and other large equipment around town displaying their awesome firepower.
The entrance plaza is such a fun hub of entertainment that it serves to get the crowd entertained as well as pumped up for the game. The carnival atmosphere is pretty spectacular.
The Eagles added 14 micro-turbines to the stadium in recent years. They add a unique look to the stadium, as well as providing sustainable energy for the complex. The micro-turbines could be an attraction of their own. Seven on the top of each end zone seating section is a unique site to behold, besides serving as a good deal for the environment.
The Army-Navy game is one of the most special events a sports fan can ever attend. The overall pageantry of the event and the pure sports aspect of the contest makes it a must see for any real sports fan.
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