Navy has a long football history with San Diego. The Mids won the first Holiday Bowl in 1978 and played at San Diego State in 1994 and 1997. The large naval presence in the city makes it a home away from home for the Mids, so much so that when the San Diego Bowl Game Association created the Poinsettia Bowl in 2005, they did so with Navy in mind.
That thinking paid off. Navy has appeared in the Poinsettia Bowl more than any other team, and attendance has been much higher in those games. The average attendance for Poinsettia Bowls without Navy is 30,076. The average with Navy is 39,272, including the three highest-attended games.
Unfortunately for the bowl committee, Navy’s membership in the American means that they will no longer be playing in the Poinsettia Bowl; eligible Navy teams will instead be selected by one of the conference’s contracted bowls. By bidding on the Navy-Notre Dame game, the SDBGA is able to maintain their relationship with the Naval Academy, with the added bonus of tapping into Notre Dame’s traveling roadshow (which incidentally has never been to San Diego).
We’ve known of San Diego’s interest in this game for a few months now, but so far there hasn’t been any news about the 2020 game. Baltimore has traditionally hosted most of Navy’s higher-profile games, but could that be changing? As an independent, Navy had a history of playing games around the country. Now that they are a member of the American, their schedules are going to consist of 8 conference games plus Army, Notre Dame, and Air Force every year. Maybe playing Notre Dame in more non-traditional locations is a way to keep that coast-to-coast element to Navy’s schedules.
We’ll find out when the 2020 game is announced. In the meantime, as a San Diego native living in Jacksonville, the last two weeks have been pretty good to me.