Eagle Bank Bowl Takes Flight in D.C.

Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty joined with District officials Wednesday to unveil the details of the city's first college bowl game. The game, formally known as the Congressional Bowl, has been renamed for its' title sponsor, Eagle Bank, a Bethesda, Maryland based company, and it will be played on Dec. 20 in RFK Stadium. ESPN will provide national coverage and kick-off is set for 11 a.m.

Although the press conference was hosted by the D.C. Bowl Committee and the game's new sponsors, the event had a distinctive ‘naval' feel to it - and for good reason.  The game will pit the Naval Academy Midshipmen against a school from the Atlantic Coast Conference – or at least that is the hope.  The first and most important obstacle standing in the way of what D.C. Bowl Committee member Sean Metcalf called the "dream scenario," is having Navy secure six wins.  The Midshipmen are currently 1-1, and there is a good chance that they will not be favored in any of their next five contests. 


On the other side of the match-up, the ACC would need to have nine teams become bowl eligible in order to send a representative to Washington D.C. - a feat that has yet to happen since the conference added its newest members, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami, in 2003.


And even though there is still work to be done to secure the ideal match-up, it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of D.C. officials, who are excited about bringing college football and a major sporting event to the District.


"The District of Columbia has been turning the corner…and bringing major attractions demonstrates the amazing progress the District has made," said Fenty. "If you are a junkie like I am, you will be watching every single bowl game, starting with this one."


"Won't it be great to be out there tailgating…going to a bowl game…it really has enormous potential," added D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans.


Also attending the press conference was Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk who said although he "can't control what happens in terms of the football field," and whether or not the Midshipmen will earn the six victories necessary to qualify for the game, but he "expects" the team will get it done.


Gladchuk also said that his "vision for the game" is that "on Dec. 20 at about 8 a.m. there is a 45-mile traffic jam backed up on Route 50 to Annapolis with all of our fans working their way into Washington."


That remark led Mayor Fenty to say, "Of course [Navy fans] can all come early and stay the night before in all of our hotels."


After the press conference Fenty told GoMids.com that there are events planned throughout D.C. starting on Dec. 16 "to celebrate a great college and a great game."


When asked if Fenty has ever attended a Navy football game in Annapolis, he said "no," but he has been to the stadium a few times.  The Mayor actually took the question as an invitation.


"Are you inviting me?"

"I'd love to [go to a home Navy football game].  Tell [Chet Gladchuk] I accept his invitation in advance," continued Fenty.


"I always root for Navy.  The mayor is a Navy fan."


With the prospects of the Midshipmen bringing over 20,000 fans to the game, it comes as no surprise that having Navy play in the game is important to the success of the bowl. 


However, Sean Metcalf said there are contingency plans if Navy fails to win six games.


"[If Navy does not qualify], we will talk with the NCAA and start negotiations in December to make sure we can select [a team] from the at-large pool.  I believe there were seven teams available last year," said Metcalf.


One of the teams that would be on the top of Metcalf's list is no stranger to the players in AnnapolisAir Force.

"If they are available, we would like to talk to the Mountain West [Conference]."


Even without Navy, Metcalf is confident the bowl game can still thrive.


"There are 5.6 million people in this region.  It's a college bowl game.  People will come out to a bowl game."





On the expectation of how many fans Navy would bring…


"We would hope that Navy would follow tradition and the last five bowl games they haven't brought less than 20,000 [fans] with them to a bowl game." - Sean Metcalf.


Whether or not there are any concerns about the weather…


"None.  It will be mild.  We have a weather committee." - Sean Metcalf.


On the physical demands of playing football…


"I've got so much respect for all the folks who play [football]. I didn't get a chance to play.  I got hit one time and that was it for me." – D.C. Councilman Kwame Brown


Memories of RFK Stadium…


"My parents brought me to my very first game I ever saw on October 4, 1975 at RFK Stadium when the Naval Academy beat Air Force, and I've never forgotten that…and I'm excited to watch the Naval Academy take on an ACC opponent at the Eagle Bank Bowl." – ACC Associate Commissioner Michael Kelly


America's Team isn't in Dallas


"We are truly America's team.  You know that team down in Dallas said they're America's team, but if you look at it, the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy are truly America's team." – West Point Athletic Director Kevin Anderson


Out of the Park…


"This is a wonderful opportunity for our fans to buy into a city for two or three days, visit the historic sites and [learn about] what this city represents.  For me, this is a home run." – Chet Gladchuk


Theme of the Bowl…


"The mantra that we have of community first and the bowl being dedicated to the nation's most dedicated is a testament to public servants, [and to] people who are in uniform, whether it be the military academies or firefighters or policemen." – Sean Metcalf




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