Veterans’ hotel reservations for Army-Navy Game canceled in Massachusetts amid migrant influx

Getting a ticket to the coveted Army-Navy Game this year isn’t the toughest battle for military veterans, service academy graduates, and their families – it’s finding a hotel to stay at.

Military families who booked rooms in Foxboro, Massachusetts, which is the site of the 124th installment of this storied college football bout at Gillette Stadium, are getting cancelation notices from hotels that are being used by the state to house migrants.

Massachusetts has a “right to shelter” law, which ensures migrants and homeless families have somewhere to live.

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Army-Navy Game Logo on Field

A view of the logo on the field prior to the 123rd playing of the Army-Navy game on Dec. 10, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. (Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Mark Mansbach, the owner of New Jersey-based Hillsdale Travel, has been servicing military members and their families for 20 years with hotel accommodations and more, especially when it comes to the Army-Navy Game. Mansbach, whose father was a first lieutenant in the 552nd Field Artillery Battalion attached to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, has a website dedicated to providing “military discounts to active-duty personnel, retired military, cadets, and families” for the game. 

Mansbach told Fox News Digital that at least 70 combined rooms from various hotels were canceled, something he has never seen in the two decades setting up military families for the game, which takes place this year on Dec. 9.

“The actual email said, ‘There’s nothing we can do,'” Mansbach said. “’We’re just going to send out cancelation notices.’ I’ve never had a hotel say, ‘Hey, screw you, you’re on your own.’ This is a first.”

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Mansbach initially learned of the cancelations through a client who requested confirmation from him that the room was still available. The client heard rumors about migrants being placed in Massachusetts hotels as they were flooding into the state. 

Mansbach reached out to the Best Western-Sharon, Best Western-Franklin, Comfort Inn Foxboro-Mansfield and Fairfield Inn Boston Dedham, all of which said they were not participating in housing migrants.

However, that was not the case when Mansbach heard from Giri Hotel Management, which manages the mentioned hotels. They said they were “thrilled” to participate in housing “refugees,” as they phrased it. 

The Corps of the Cadets from Army before Army-Navy Game

The Corps of the Cadets from the U.S. Army line up on the field prior to the 123rd playing of the Army-Navy game on Dec. 10, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. (Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Giri Hotel Management is thrilled to announce our commitment to providing shelter and support to refugees at our hotels,” the management company told Fox News Digital in a statement in response to a request for comment regarding the reported reasoning for the cancelations. “As a gesture of solidarity and humanitarian responsibility, we are opening our doors to those seeking refuge in our community.

“We consider it a privilege to offer a safe haven to those who have been forced to flee their homes due to challenging circumstances, and our enthusiasm stems from our belief in the fundamental values of compassion and unity. By providing shelter to refugees, we aim to be a part of a global community that stands together in support of those in need. 

“We look forward to working with local authorities and organizations to ensure a smooth transition for all those who will call our hotels home during their time with us.”

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, who declared a state of emergency in August due to the influx of migrants, said she was “troubled” to learn that veterans and military families were seeing canceled hotel reservations due to migrants. 

She noted that Veterans’ Services Secretary Jon Santiago will be reaching out to these displaced veterans, though she did not take any blame on the matter. 

“I’m very distressed to learn that any veteran may have been moved from a hotel, who had booked a hotel for that game,” Healey told reporters, via the Boston Herald. “As I understand it, those decisions were made by area hotels.”

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey speaks. (Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Healey has not provided any specifics on the migrant housing plan the state is undergoing, though it has been contracting a large quantity of hotels to help place migrants quickly. 

Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took to social media to detail his frustration with this situation affecting military families. 

“Our veterans and service academy graduates cannot find anywhere to stay for the Army-Navy Game because hotels are housing illegal aliens on the taxpayers’ dime. What a farce,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “When I am president, the days of putting illegal aliens over Americans will be over.”

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Mansbach is just one travel agent who is dealing with these sudden cancelations. Perhaps there are more out there trying to re-accommodate clients, which hotels usually help with when unexpected cancelations occur. 

“I’ve had twice a hotel take back a block of rooms,” he said. “But in both situations, they put my people in other hotels. This is the first time I’ve had a hotel come back to me and say, ‘Not only are we taking back your rooms, we can’t help you with re-accommodating. We’re just sending them cancelation notices.’ That was it.”

Mansbach has been able to re-accommodate 40 to 50 military families who lost their rooms, and heading into Boston is one of the options to do so, though it can be more expensive. One of the main reasons these families choose Mansbach is because of the military discounts. Now, they are simply scrambling to find any space to stay for the game. 

Army-Navy Game Logo

A general view of the Army-Navy logo prior to the 123rd Army-Navy game on Dec. 10, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

That has left some of Mansbach’s clients to simply bow out of this year’s traveling to the game. They would rather wait for next year’s contest at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. 

Mansbach explained the importance of the Army-Navy game to these families each year. 

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“Any Army-Navy encounter on a sports field is the game for that sport,” he said. “So yes, you could be 0-30 for both teams and they will still believe this is the game.”

The game’s arrival in Foxboro this year has been 12 years in the making, as three formal bids were submitted to have Gillette Stadium host the game that brings in millions of tourism dollars to the area in which its played. 

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