Yankee Stadium to host ND-Army game

NEW YORK -- Charlie Weis remembered when he met with George Steinbrenner at Legends Field during spring training two years ago.

"I looked at him and said, 'Mr. Steinbrenner, you've got this new stadium going up. I mean, you're not going to have Notre Dame and Army scheduled for your first football game?' " the Notre Dame coach recalled Monday. "He laughed, first of all. You know, I don't think he's used to people busting his chops too often."

Turns out, the Fighting Irish will play the first football game at Steinbrenner's $1.5 billion ballpark, facing Army in a nationally televised matchup on Saturday night Nov. 20, 2010.

"It demonstrates a commitment to tradition," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "I think it's reassuring."

Steinbrenner, always more comfortable in football metaphors than baseball adjectives, played football at Williams and was an assistant coach at Northwestern and Purdue.

Notre Dame and Army have a long history of playing in New York, They met 22 times at old Yankee Stadium, facing each other annually from 1925-46, except for 1930, and again in 1969 in the 100th anniversary of college football. They also played at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (1923), the Polo Grounds in Manhattan (1924) and Shea Stadium in Queens (1965).

Army and Notre Dame have played 10 times in the past 40 years, meeting six times at South Bend, once at West Point, plus three times at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (1977, 1983 and 1995).

Two of the Notre Dame-Army matchups were particularly memorable. Knute Rockne made his "Win one for the Gipper" speech at halftime of the Irish's 12-6 victory over unbeaten Army in 1928, and No. 1 Army was held to a 0-0 tie by No. 2 Notre Dame in 1946, what became known as the "Game of the Century."

Football was not played across the street at old Yankee Stadium after September 1987, when Central State, Ohio, beat Grambling State 37-21.

Weis, born in Trenton, N.J., remembered back to his youth, when football games at Yankee Stadium were commonplace.

"I was one of those guys sitting in those left-center field bleachers watching the Giants play when I was a little kid," he said. "I was one of those guys coming to Yankee games in the old Yankee Stadium, where those pillars were right in front of your face."

While the Yankees said Friday the field would run from first base to left field, Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost said the only direction it would fit would be from behind home plate to center field, with the dugouts and bullpens possibly modified. In a mockup displayed at Monday's news conference, it appeared many seats would be far from the action: 30 yards from the sideline at midfield and about 20 yards at the 30-yard lines.

Notre Dame will be the home team and NBC will televise the game, the 50th meeting between the schools. Trost said Yankees suite holders will have priority access to tickets.

Additional Army home games in 2011, 2012 and 2014, one possibly against Rutgers, are to be announced Wednesday. Trost also said the Yankees were in discussion with the NHL about having a hockey game at Yankee Stadium.