Nation’s Football Classic at RFK Stadium Discontinued

Howard Bison wide receiver Robert Mercer is double-teamed by Hampton Pirate defenders during Hampton's 34-7 win in the Nation's Football Classic at RFK Stadium in southeast D.C. on Saturday, Sept. 17. /Photo by John E. De Freitas
Howard Bison wide receiver Robert Mercer is double-teamed by Hampton Pirate defenders during Hampton's 34-7 win in the Nation's Football Classic at RFK Stadium in southeast D.C. on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. (John E. De Freitas/The Washington Informer)

The Nation’s Football Classic at RFK Stadium in Southeast has been a staple in the D.C. community since 2011, featuring historically black colleges and universities in a celebration of service, unity and heritage.

Unfortunately, the short-lived tradition will come to a halt as Events DC, the city’s official convention and sports authority, announced the discontinuation of the game at RFK due to a shift in corporate priorities.

“Events DC enjoyed the exciting matchups and great relationships with our local partner, Howard University, and visiting schools Hampton University and Morehouse College for the Nation’s Football Classic over the past six years,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, Events DC president and CEO.

O’Dell expressed gratitude to the participating universities and their impact on the community.

“The annual Classic in Washington, D.C., was more than just a game, with ancillary activities celebrating the passion and tradition of [HBCUs],” he said. “As our organization continues to evolve, we feel it is the right time to shift our efforts to different, exciting programming, as well as the implementation of our short-term redevelopment project for the historic RFK Stadium-Armory Campus.”

Alternative locations for the storied contest had already been under consideration, as RFK Stadium has long been a target for renovations.

Additionally, the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), which is made up of HBCUs, also announced that its championship game will be discontinued in order to pursue the inaugural Celebration Bowl.

“With the creation of the Celebration Bowl as a national showcase for HBCU football, the Council of Presidents and Chancellors decided to suspend the championship game format after the 2017 season,” said conference Commissioner Duer Sharp, hbcusports.com reported.

However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Erik A. Moses, Events DC senior vice president and managing director of sports, entertainment, and special events, expressed optimism for events to come.

“Though we are sad to discontinue one of our primary produced events, we are now able to pivot our investments from one larger event to several smaller ones as we continue to activate the RFK Stadium-Armory campus and beyond,” he said.

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