The traditional Army/Navy football rivalry will return to New Jersey for its 2021 game, in part to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 2001 terrorist attacks in which more than 2,700 people were killed at the World Trade Center.

At a news conference in East Rutherford, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk says other NFL venues and baseball stadiums applied to host the 2021 game but that organizers selected MetLife Stadium because they wanted to play close to the site of 9/11.

“The attention that’s drawn to something that’s so revered and so important and so much a part of our lives that happened 20 years ago will make this a moment of reverence, a moment of unity,” Gladchuk said, citing “the emotional tie and what this game means to us being right here in New Jersey just 11 miles from Ground Zero.”

Army athletic director Boo Corrigan said no one who plays in the game will forget the opportunity to mark the anniversary so close to New York.

“Each time we talked about it, I know I found myself getting emotional at just the pure idea. And I get chills even talking about what it will be at that point in time,” Corrigan said.

The game won’t be played on the exact anniversary, but rather three months later on Dec. 11. Traditionally, the matchup wraps up the regular season for the two service academies.

“To be able to have this exactly 20 years and three months after those attacks will be I think a particularly emotional and poignant moment,” said Gov. Chris Christie.

This will be the fifth time the Army/Navy game is played in New Jersey, and the first since 2002. It will be the first time it is played at MetLife Stadium.

Christie said studies show the Army/Navy game yields more than $30 million of economic impact and will bring 50,000 visitors to the region.

“The Army/Navy game is a weeklong celebration. It’s not just one day,” Christie said. “It has great economic impact on the place that hosts it.”

Among the activities is a gala and pep rally for more than 1,500 people that Naval Academy athletic director Chet Gladchuk says will be held at Ellis Island.

“Which is kind of neat,” Gladchuk said. “I mean, you talk about taking it all back to our roots. Probably most in this room have some tie through your heritage that goes back through Ellis Island.”

Tuesday’s event marked Christie’s second straight day with a public event at the Meadowlands. On Monday, he highlighted that construction has restarted on the mall and entertainment complex now known as American Dream, which now may open in 2019 – 13 years later than first anticipated.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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