FOXBORO - It is one of the most anticipated games in college football and this year it is being played at Gillette Stadium. The Army-Navy game will make its Foxboro debut on December 9th.
American presidents often attend, but you can be certain tens of thousands of veterans will pour into the greater Boston area. Tickets to the game sell out quickly and hotel rooms become a hot commodity.
That's why it was all the more troubling when Mark Mansbach, a travel agent out of New Jersey, started getting calls from clients that their hotel rooms for the game were being canceled. He decided to call the hotels his agency was partnering with for the game.
"They were leasing out the hotels to the state of Massachusetts for refugees," Mansbach said he was told. It was the response from three hotels owned by Giri Hotel Management, according to Mansbach.
The company, he explained, was working with the state to house migrants under the. His clients' previously booked hotel rooms were canceled to continue the lease with the state. Mansbach said at least 70 of his reservations were impacted.
In a statement to WBZ-TV Thursday, a Giri Hotel Management spokesperson didn't address the cancelations directly, saying they're committed "to providing shelter and support to refugees at our hotels."
"As a gesture of solidarity and humanitarian responsibility, we are opening our doors to those seeking refuge in our community," the statement read. "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."
Mansbach said in his two decades of experience, he had never heard of something like this happening.
"I have never had a hotel take rooms back and give me nothing. They sent out cancellations and walked away," Mansbach told WBZ. "Some people (clients) have decided not to go, and others found space in Boston. Some I have been able to put into other hotels that I had space left in."
Governor Maura Healey spoke about the issue Wednesday afternoon.
"I am very distressed to learn that any veteran may have been moved from a hotel, who had booked a hotel for that game," Healey said. "As I understand it, those were decisions made by area hotels."
Healey said she instructed the Office of Veteran Services to look into the matter. The agency told WBZ Wednesday it was in contact with the parties involved to pinpoint any veteran who was still in need of a room.
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