Navy-Air Force football game threatened by government shutdown

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - As a result of the government shutdown, the Department of Defense has suspended all intercollegiate athletic competitions at the Service Academies.

The Naval Academy has already begun to cancel athletic contest, including tonight's soccer game against Howard. It's unknown whether the game will be rescheduled.

Among the more high profile events that could be impacted is Saturday's nationally televised football game between Navy and Air Force at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Navy athletics spokesman Scott Strasemeier said notification regarding the game's future will be made public by noon on Thursday.

Navy Athletics Director Chet Gladchuck said canceling Saturday's game would be a tremendous economic blow not only for the Academy, but for Annapolis and the entire Baltimore region. He said a record 40,000 fans have purchased tickets for the Air Force game, part of the Commander-in-Chief series between the three service academies.

Gladchuck said on average, a Navy home football game generates around $7 million in economic activity for the Annapolis area.

"When you consider all of the people that come in from out of town, stay at hotels, go to the restaurants and spend money at local shops, the economic impact is unbelievable," gladchuck said. "Right now, we're like the rest of the country; we're keeping our fingers crossed and hoping this gets settled sooner rather than later or at least we'll be given some latitude in order to play this game."

Gladchuck added that should the shutdown continue past this week, it could cause immeasurable damage to the entire athletics department, especially the football program, which needs to win at least six games to become bowl eligible.

Navy is 2-1 on the season following last Saturday's 19-7 loss at Western Kentucky. Gladchuck said there are no open dates left on Navy's schedule to make up the Air Force game and they don't intend to break  a contract with any other opponents to make up the game.

"We have obligations to the other teams on our schedules as well as they market their games against Navy," Gladchuck said. "The impact from an extended shutdown will not just be felt by the academies, but by every teams that has scheduled to play us."

The Air Force Academy says their athletic program will "attempt to play home intercollegiate athletic contests but those may be cancelled as well."

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