Midshipmen returning to RI for Army-Navy game hosted in Foxboro in 2023

PROVIDENCE — The Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy are returning to Rhode Island after a 155-year absence.

Although it's only for one night and only to play a football game the next day.

The Naval Academy, historically sited in Annapolis, Maryland, was relocated to Newport during the Civil War because of the proximity of Annapolis to Confederate territory.

The midshipmen are returning to Rhode Island next year because the New England Patriots' home stadium, in Foxboro, Massachusetts, is hosting the 2023 Army-Navy football game, one of the oldest rivalries in collegiate sports.

The Rhode Island Convention Center will be home overnight for some 3,000 midshipmen, and Providence is expected to accommodate families and alumni for the Dec. 9, 2023, game.

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Where will 3,000 midshipmen sleep in the RI Convention Center?

"They're going to sleep basically all over the building," said Daniel McConaghy, executive director of the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority, the state agency that oversees the convention center and several other venues in Providence.

McConaghy said the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency will secure the cots, which will be set up basically everywhere: the cavernous main exhibit hall, the main ballroom and a satellite ballroom, even in the smaller meeting rooms on the top floor of the facility.

Where will 3,000 midshipmen eat while staying at the RI Convention Center?

Here's a hint:

If you're planning on going out to eat in the Providence area on Dec. 8, 2023, you better make your reservations now.

"They'll be into the local restaurant scene here in Providence and other locations," said McConaghy.

And not just 3,000 midshipmen, remember families and alumni will be in town, too.

How much will the RI Convention Center be paid for hosting the midshipmen?

"We are being compensated for it," said McConaghy, who didn't have figures immediately available.

He added that the convention center would not make money on the event, but would do it at cost.

The two service academies don't pay for the event, McConaghy said. Instead, the Kraft family that owns Gillette Stadium, where the game will be played, pays the academies to host the event, and the Krafts will cover the convention center's costs.

Is this the biggest tourism event in Providence history?

That depends, in part, on how you count it. Many festivals draw thousands into the city, but most of them go home to sleep.

But hosting the midshipmen may rival NCAA men's basketball tournament weekends, in terms of overnight guests, according to Kristen Adamo, president and chief executive of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau.

A lot will depend on how Adamo and other tourism officials market the event to the families of midshipmen, alumni and corporations that may want to host events in conjunction with the visit.

One advantage the midshipmen visit will have: those 3,000 people are staying at the convention center, leaving lots of hotel rooms free for other potential overnight guests.

Adamo said the timing is also right, injecting tourism dollars into the Providence economy during the normally sleepy December.

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Can I get tickets to the Army-Navy game in Foxboro?

Additional details, including ticketing information, will be made available at a later date.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Army-Navy game in 2023: Midshipmen returning to RI, Foxboro