With the departure of the Washington Redskins to FedEx Field, RFK Stadium became almost a sports ghost town.
While the stadium still hosts professional soccer games regularly and the occasional college game, the days of rocking bleachers and hard-hitting pro football and major league baseball have been replaced by events that draw much smaller crowds.
However, since 2008, the Military Bowl, an annual college football bowl game between teams from an Atlantic Coast Conference team (ACC) and one from Conference USA (C-USA) played at RFK, has helped breathe new life into the Redskins’ old stomping grounds and this year’s game will see some major additions that could help further revive the sports venue.
The D.C. Bowl Committee announced earlier this week the addition of several new elements for the 2011 Military Bowl, which will be played on Dec. 28 and aired live on ESPN at 4:30 p.m.
This year there will be a new pre-game look, a simulated military village just outside the stadium which will give fans a risk-free look at some of today’s combat hardware, including a risk-free glimpse of military helicopters, pilotless drones and the all-terrain, multi-purpose Humvee, according to event organizers.
“The Military Village not only enhances the game day experience for our fans, but also maintains the bowl’s focus on our nation’s armed forces,” Military Bowl President and Executive Director Steve Beck said in a statement.
The enterprise grows out of a partnership between NewDay Financial, a mortgage lender, and Purple Heart Homes, a non-profit veterans support group. At the Military Bowl halftime, the team will also present a free home to a selected wounded veteran.
“As the exclusive mortgage provider for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, NewDay Financial is pleased to partner with the Military Bowl to sponsor this year’s Military Village,” said Rob Posner, CEO of NewDay Financial in a press release. “Our sponsorship of the Military Village allows us to give back to our veterans and active duty servicemen and women. It is our hope that this will be the beginning of a long partnership with the Military Bowl.”
The organizers are hoping the exhibit, the game and the halftime activities will help propel revitalization of the stadium.