07/20/09 4:51 PM ET
Yanks to host Notre Dame-Army game
Storied rivalry to play out in Nov. 20 contest at new Stadium
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The game will mark the 50th time that the schools have played each other, with 22 of those previous meetings having taken place at the classic Yankee Stadium. The last of those games was played in 1969.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said on Monday that the club is happy to return college football to their stage in the Bronx and that his father, George Steinbrenner, is also very enthusiastic about the plans for the game.
"When we first floated this idea past him and told him Notre Dame and Army were interested, he was ecstatic and very excited and eager to get a deal done," Steinbrenner said. "He reminded me several times over the last several months just how great and rich this rivalry has been.
"It's an honor and a pleasure that the tradition will be brought across the street to this brand new facility that we're very proud of."
An official announcement was made on Monday at Yankee Stadium, with Steinbrenner presenting Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis and Army head coach Rich Ellerson with pinstriped Yankees home jerseys featuring their last names and the No. 10 -- to signify the 2010 game.
"On behalf of the University of Notre Dame, we'd like to thank the Yankees organization for coming up with this idea and involving us with a rival such as Army," Weis said. "We couldn't have picked a better opponent to go against, with what Army stands for."
"It's an honor to be in this company, representing West Point," Ellerson said. "To have these three icons of American culture -- Yankee Stadium, Notre Dame football and West Point -- alive and well, together again in the 21st century, it demonstrates a commitment to the vision of constancy. In these troubled times, I think people will find this great history and legacy reassuring."
The football game will be played entirely within the dimensions of the baseball field, with minor modifications made to the bullpens and dugouts. The goalposts will be set in the areas of center field and home plate, a change from the old Yankee Stadium, where football fields were outlined in the directions of first base and left-center field.
Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said that the vision was that the new Yankee Stadium would be equipped to host numerous events other than baseball in the future. Discussions are continuing with both Army and Notre Dame about additional games, as well as other colleges and universities, and Trost said that the National Hockey League has also engaged the Yankees concerning a possible game.
"In the planning and construction of this stadium, we had to make certain that the building was winterized, which it was," Trost said. "We are able to use this on a full-season basis, not just for baseball."
Weis said that during Spring Training in 2007, he had discussed with George Steinbrenner the possibility of a game, meeting with the chairman in his fourth-floor Tampa, Fla. office. Weis kidded Steinbrenner that with Yankee Stadium opening in 2009, he should have already planned to have Notre Dame and Army play the first college football game at the new facility.
"He laughed, first of all," Weis said. "I don't think he's used to people busting his chops too often, to tell you the truth. I thought he looked at me very inquisitively. I think that idea came from him long before I said it. I'd love to take the credit but I don't think it quite works that way."
The original Yankee Stadium played host to the famed 1928 "Win one for the Gipper" matchup between Army and Notre Dame, which resulted in a 12-6 Irish victory. The game was scoreless at halftime, when Notre Dame head coach Knute Rockne gave his famous speech -- later captured on celluloid by actor Ronald Reagan -- in the locker room.
The Fighting Irish hold a 14-5-3 record in games played against Army at Yankee Stadium from 1925-29, 1931-46 and in 1969, the 100th anniversary of college football. Overall, the two schools have played 49 times, with Notre Dame leading the matchup 37-8-4.
"Any student of Notre Dame football history knows the meaning of the Notre Dame-Army rivalry and, in particular, the history of that rivalry at Yankee Stadium," said Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick. "It's fitting that a Notre Dame-Army game will be the first football event in this fabulous facility -- and it's also fitting that the 50th meeting in this great rivalry will take place in a venue with such great tradition for both programs."
"I think it's very fitting that one of the most historically significant rivalries in the history of college football ushers the sport back to Yankee Stadium," said Army director of athletics Kevin Anderson. "At one time, the Army-Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium was one of the most anticipated matchups in every college football season. We think this event will create the same type of excitement in college football circles."
The 2010 Notre Dame-Army matchup will be the first college football game at the home of the Yankees since Grambling hosted Central State in the Whitney M. Young Urban Classic on Sept. 12, 1987, at the original Yankee Stadium. The Stadium also hosted college football games for Fordham and NYU from 1923-48.
"I think it's great," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I love college football, I love the excitement the students and the people bring to it, the caliber of play. I would love to watch the game."
Notre Dame expects to make tickets available to its contributing alumni and fans through its alumni lottery as it does with all other football games. Army will receive an allotment of tickets as the visiting team.
Trost said that Yankees suiteholders will have access to tickets to the 2010 game but not general season ticketholders. The Yankees will have an announcement in the future regarding ticket availability for the general public.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.