FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — More than six dozen military veterans and active service members who booked hotels for the upcoming Army-Navy football game at Gillette Stadium are now scrambling to find new accommodations after their reservations were abruptly canceled.
Mark Mansbach, owner of the New Jersey-based Hillsdale Travel Agency, told 12 News that approximately 75 hotel reservations made in anticipation of the game were canceled between three hotels located in and around Foxboro.
“I’ve never had a hotel take back a block of rooms,” he explained. “This is a first.”
Mansbach reached out to one of the hotels for an explanation and was told the rooms are now being offered to migrant families, which the state has seen an influx of in recent months.
Gov. Maura Healey declared a state of emergency in response to the flood of migrants moving to Massachusetts. She also activated the Massachusetts National Guard to assist shelters and hotels with housing them.
In a statement to 12 News, a spokesperson for Giri Hotel Management confirmed that its hotels will be housing migrants for the next several months.
“As a gesture of solidarity and humanitarian responsibility, we are opening our doors to those seeking refuge in our community,” the spokesperson wrote. “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.”
The spokesperson said Giri Hotel Management would be “seamlessly” relocating impacted guests to other hotels.
But Mansbach claimed that his clients have yet to be relocated. He said the hotel he spoke with told him there are no plans at this time to accommodate those who lost their reservations.
“Just scrambling to find rooms at this point is difficult, and what you will find will be extremely costly,” he noted.
Rep. Steven Xiarhos believes lawmakers should revisit state’s “right to shelter” law. The measure was enacted back in 1982 and requires the state to offer shelter to homeless families.
“It’s really incredible that the game is going to be in Massachusetts at the home of the Patriots,” Xiarhos said. “But where is everyone going to stay? That’s one of the problems.”
Healey said she was “very distressed” to learn that hotels had canceled the reservations of veterans and active service members with little notice. In response, she has directed the Executive Office of Veterans’ Services to reach out to those who have been affected to help them find new accommodations.
This is the first time in the Army-Navy Game’s 124-year history that it will be played in New England. It’s described as one of the oldest and most storied rivalries in college football.
The Army-Navy Game will take place on Dec. 9.