BY DEREK HARPER
One way to grow the game of indoor and arena football would be playing a game or two a season in a city within the geographic footprint of a league that might feasibly be able to host a future team. This idea comes from something the Junior-A British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) does where they play two games during the season in a city without a team. However, that city is also fairly far away from any others in the league. This article will look at cities in the National Arena League (NAL), Champions Indoor Football (CIF), and Indoor Football League (IFL) that could potentially host a game or two for a Road Show and possibly a team one day.
NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE (NAL)
Let's take a trip down memory lane to Allentown, PA and a city that hosted an NAL franchise for a short time when the NAL was first founded. The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks existed in multiple leagues, but most recently the NAL for two seasons from 2017-2018. The PPL Center has a seating capacity of 8,500 for arena football. It hosted the now defunct Philadelphia Soul of the also defunct Arena Football League (AFL) for late regular season games and playoff games in 2016. The venue currently hosts the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL). In total, four seasons of arena football have been played in Allentown and would be a perfect city for an NAL Road Show matchup. The most likely teams geographically to take part in a game in Allentown would be the West Virginia Roughriders and Jersey Flight. Geographically, the Jersey Flight would be the home team, being only an hour and twenty minutes from Trenton, home of the Flight.
Next up is Reading, PA which has hosted eight seasons of indoor football inside the Santander Arena. The Santander Arena seats 7,160 for ice hockey so it'd be roughly the same for arena football. In 2015, the venue hosted the ASI Panthers of American Indoor Football (AIF), but before that it hosted seven seasons of the Reading Express who played in multiple leagues from 2006-2012. Roughly an hour and a half from Trenton, the Flight could again play host to the West Virginia Roughriders.
A third city that'd be a good host for an NAL Road Show and potentially a team is Albany, NY. The Times Union Center has hosted 21 seasons of arena football in the past with the Conquest, Firebirds, and Empire. The original Firebirds franchise existed from 1990-2000 in the original AFL. The Conquest/Firebirds existed from 2002-2009 in what was the AFL's minor league, the AF2. The now defunct Albany Empire played two seasons from 2018-2019 in the AFL. The Empire always brought in a good crowd for each game and would be a great market for the NAL to explore. The TCU seats 13,785 for arena football and is roughly two hours and fifteen minutes from Worcester, Massachusetts where the Massachusetts Pirates play. The Pirates could potentially host the Jersey Flight in a Road Show matchup.
Another market that could host an NAL Road Show matchup is Greenville, SC. Bon Secours Wellness Arena has hosted five seasons of indoor and arena football. The venue is currently home to the ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits. From 2000-2002 the venue hosted the Carolina Rhinos of the AF2, then in 2009 it was the South Carolina Force of the AIFA, and finally the Greenville Force of the Southern Indoor Football League (SIFL) in 2010. The venue seats 13,951 for hockey so roughly around that for arena football. The Carolina Cobras in Greensboro are just over three hours from Greenville while the Columbus (GA) Lions are four hours from Greenville. The Cobras could potentially host the Lions in an NAL Road Show matchup.
Another South Carolina city that could host an NAL Road Show matchup is Charleston. North Charleston Coliseum seats 10,537 for ice hockey and arena football. The venue currently hosts the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays. It's previously played host to five seasons of arena football. First from 2000-2003 the Charleston Swamp Foxes played four seasons in the AF2 and in 2006 the Charleston Sandsharks played a lone season in the now defunct National Indoor Football League (NIFL). The Carolina Cobras are roughly four hours and forty-five minutes from Charleston while the Columbus (GA) Lions are just barely under six hours away. Like in Greenville, the Cobras could potentially host the Lions in an NAL Road Show matchup.
Another market that could host an NAL Road Show matchup is Norfolk, VA. Norfolk Scope currently hosts the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals. The venue has played host to four seasons of arena football in the past with the AF2's Norfolk Nighthawks from 2000-2003. The venue seats 8,701 for ice hockey so it'd be a similar number for arena football. The Carolina Cobras are just over four hours from Norfolk while the West Virginia Roughriders are just under eight hours away. The Cobras could potentially host the Roughriders in an NAL Road Show matchup.
INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE (IFL)
One potential city that could host an IFL Road Show matchup is Bakersfield, CA. Mechanics Bank Arena seats 8,751 and currently hosts the AHL's Bakersfield Condors. The venue previously hosted two editions of the Bakersfield Blitz, one that moved to Fresno and another that later folded after four seasons. In total, the two editions of the Blitz played six seasons of arena football in Bakersfield both as members of the AF2. Bakersfield is roughly just over a three hour and fifteen minute drive from San Diego, where the Strike Force play. The Oakland Panthers meanwhile are roughly just over four and half hours from Bakersfield. The San Diego Strike Force could potentially host the Oakland Panthers in an IFL Road Show matchup.
Another city that might be a good host for an IFL Road Show game is Billings, MT which has previously hosted two IFL franchises for a total of 13 seasons. First, it was the Billings Outlaws from 2000-2010 and then the Billings Wolves from 2015-2016. First Interstate Arena seats 12,000 people for events so it'd be roughly less than that given what it takes for a hockey/indoor football setup. The Bismarck Bucks are barely just over a six hour drive from Billings while the Spokane Shock are just under an eight and a half hour drive. The Bucks could potentially host the Shock in an IFL Road Show matchup.
A third city that could possibly host an IFL Road Show matchup is Reno, NV. Reno previously hosted the Reno Barons of the Western Indoor Football Association (WIFA) for one season in 2011. Most recently, the Reno Express played one season in 2019 as members of the American West Football Conference (AWFC). Reno Events Center seats 7,000 for events so it'd be around that capacity with how the venue is configured. Reno is about a three and a half hour drive from the Oakland Panthers and about nine hours and forty-five minutes from the San Diego Strike Force. So while not ideal for San Diego, they're currently the second closest team to Reno. Oakland could potentially host an IFL Road Show matchup against the Strike Force.
A fourth market that previously played host to the IFL that could host an IFL Road Show matchup is Bemidji, MN. The Bemidji Axemen played two seasons from 2014-2015 inside the Sanford Center which seats 4,700 for ice hockey and would be roughly the same for indoor football. The Bismarck Bucks are just over five and a half hours from Bemidji while the Sioux Falls Storm are just over six hours away. The Bucks could potentially host the Storm in an IFL Road Show matchup.
CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL (CIF)
A city the CIF could go to for a Road Show matchup is Cedar Park, TX. H-E-B Center at Cedar Park currently hosts the NBA G-League's Austin Spurs and the AHL's Texas Stars. It sits 6,778 for hockey so it'd be roughly the same for indoor football. The West Texas Warbirds are just barely under five and a half hours from Cedar Park while the Oklahoma Flying Aces are seven hours and fifteen minutes away. The Warbirds could potentially host the Flying Aces in a CIF Road Show matchup.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU THE FANS
In this time of absence without sports, we'd like to hear from you the fans, on which markets within each league's geographic footprint could potentially host a Road Show matchup and even possibly a team. Obviously a lot of factors including distance to competition, past markets that've been burned, future expansion that's already known to us, as well as arena size went into choosing the listed cities. If you think we left a city out that should be considered or disagree with certain choices we made let us know and maybe we might consider them in a future article.
Written by Chris Mabry
As we wait for more indoor football to take place thanks to the Coronavirus, many teams are reaching out in their communities. Many teams help by giving out food to families in need, meal deliveries to local businesses, and having some fun along the way.
This week in the IFL, the Frisco Fighters and the Sioux Falls Storm were supposed to play this coming weekend. Instead, they are going to play each other on a virtual football field. Right now on the team’s twitter account, they put out a poll asking which team they would like to be on Madden. The result will be revealed this Sunday evening when the game will be streamed on YouTube via the IFL’s YouTube page.
For more information on what’s going on in the IFL or in any indoor/area league, stay with Arena Football Talk.
Written by Chris Mabry
Since March 12, 2020 the Coronavirus has impacted indoor/arena football. This has impacted the Indoor Football League's season as it just kicked off a few weeks ago. Now there is word as the season will resume in...May? That is what the Quad City Steamwheelers are stay in a press release posted on the Steamwheelers Twitter page.
Keep it here to Arena Football Talk for the latest news on Indoor/Arena Football.
As the Frisco Fighters start to take flight in the Indoor Football League, I was grateful for the opportunity to interview not only a Dallas Cowboys legend but also a legend in the indoor football circuit... number 88 Drew Pearson.
Here is our conversation he other yesterday.
Christopher: you were a football football head coach for the Dallas Texans how did you get the job for that team
Drew: Well I went off after it I kind of was watching the indoor game especially since it had been in Dallas and had some success with Ernie stoutner the head coach and so I had been watching it and said I like what I see so maybe I'd like to be a part of that. so I… after Ernie stautner decided to retire the position was open I decided to apply for it and go after it and before you know it I was able to secure the head coaching job and in the process of doing that beat out. I was told I could say beat out cuz I have too much respect for them I was chosen the head of dick Nolan former NFL coach who had known because he was wide receiver coach took a while with the Dallas Cowboys and I worked with him when I was a receiver coach with the Cowboys so you know I was surprised I got the position over him cuz I have so much respect for him and once I got the position the first thing I wanted to do is hire get knowing that it's my assistant head coach and I told his job was to teach me how to be a head coach cuz that was my first head coaching job.
Christopher: how did you enjoy being a head coach
Drew: I enjoyed it a lot you know dealing with the players are saying everything else surrounding the game the head coach of course have to deal with more things than just coached football team and with the Arena Football League head coach you know is there pretty much the promoter big as much as we can in any way that it came with my name recognition you know we try to use that as much as possible to promote the game around Dallas and it worked because we had some great crowds there my first year of four and six disappointed with that I believe 4 and 6 but disappointed wasn't a winning season I know that disappointed with that but I enjoy the experience that's for sure
Christopher: would you ever be in a head coach in the indoor game again?
Drew: oh no no I'm done with that tremendous responsibility to be a coach at any level and you have to be totally committed to to want to do that and even in the indoor game you know I'm not as familiar with that game as the people that have been in that gate most of their adult life so I respect that and I'm not coming into this situation with the IFL even though I get involved with the entire game I'm not coming into this situation like I know it off I'm coming into it with my eyes open and wanting to learn as much about this game as much as possible on this level and try to promote it as much as possible in Frisco cuz this is a football minded area from high schools or right on through the Cowboys and we want to be part of that. We want to be part of that and the fans should come out for XFL Games, they certainly can come out for I IFL games right.
Christopher: You did mention you're a general manager or not a manager but you were in the IFL as a general manager that was that experience?
Drew: well that was a good experience that was different you know most of my time in that position was spent promoting the team trying to sell tickets trying to gain a sponsor ships and things like that and trying to make a mark in the community we were in Allen at the time Alan Wranglers and we were trying to make a mark in that community and Thursday we felt the way to do that was to get out and to the community so we would go into schools and build deal with Charity I get the players to show up or events and things like that and even though these at these events and charity events or whatever it might be you know these players aren't well-known if you tell them their football players in the National Football players and people just seem to go crazy they don't never heard of them or whatever but they still want their autographs and things like that they still want to take pictures with them so we still have that connection even on this level of the IFL we still have that kind of impact on the community and we need to take advantage of that.
Christopher: How do you think the IFL or any indoor league can grow and expand?
Drew: well you know you got a first of all they got a recognize who they are you know and here's what we can do here is a limitations of what we can do and so everything under that we got to make it as great as possible we're going to make it entertaining we going to make it exciting we got a we can't pull people again especially in this area you know football and so we gotta get quality product out there on the field and I think he do it that way and you know, football is an expanding game it's a game that people never get tired of so if we do it the right way and take care of the responsibilities that you bring to the community trying to be part of the community I think of each franchise grows within the community then they'll become solid in that Community off and it'll be a fixture in that community and then you'll be able to have the success that say the NFL has had over the years that's to say the least
Christopher: Who on the current Frisco fighters roster do you think has a good shot at making a NFL roster?
Drew: You know I really can't get into that because I don't know these guys that well I've been only been out to a couple of practices and from what I see you know we're are very experienced with all beings but I don't know what level of these guys are as far as we're thinking you know the age the age they might be and if that long time to get into the NFL has passed them by and they have to accept that reality if it has but if you know the point is that they don't they're not accepting the reality that they have to give up football just because they can't go into the NFL and so they want to continue their careers as long as they can and at the opportunity of the NFL presents itself month in advance you know these they have some current video current Cape current game times experiences and things of that nature to show both teams if they're interested in them but from what I find in my experience is at this level like these guys play mainly For the Love of the Game. Yeah they see that carried out there maybe one day play in the NFL because that's their dream but they know to reach that dream they're still got to play the game and play the game the right way and you know that's just that to me that for me gives them a lot of respect for what they do when I spoke to the team I totally admire them I appreciate them not just because they play football but cuz they play it in an environment of the 50-yard football field where it's off the little different in plain on a hundred yards. So you got to be a special person you got to really love the game of football to play it at that level because ain't nowhere to hide dead now okay.
Christopher: for those that are new to the game watching it or or going to a game what can fans experience or get out of the indoor game?
Drew: Well they're going to get a lot of scoring it's usually a lot of scoring it's an offensive-minded football games a lot of defense that has been you know over the years has been team coaches have been coming up with all kinds of schemes that slow day off and down but there's no way to run to come up with schemes to stop the offense so that's the number one thing it'll be excitement out there on the on Palm yeah football field and then you know the promotion of the game everything surrounding the game you know whether it's autograph sessions with taking advantage of it the pro athletes that are in this area again writing into the games and doing autograph sessions with them having VIP pregame parties with some the sponsors making myself through. It's very acceptable to the band and stuff like that I'm not going to be sitting in the in the Box the whole game I'm going to be getting out in the stands and hanging out and doing a job. pregame tailgate stuff that so we want to make an experience for for the band it's much like the Cowboys if we learn anything we got the Cowboys right there to learn from home and you go to a Cowboy game it's like a Super Bowl everything going on the excitement around the stadium the tailgating the bands going on and playing and you know the bulb just the excitement the bugs well that's what we want to try to create that excitement that bugs and if you can create that and that's something that people want to be a part of you know just like Dallas Cowboys so hopefully we can create that in Frisco you know we got we're digging ourselves out of a hole a little bit from what happened last year with the frisco team but I think we got the right ownership is no question about that but her main family definitely the right ownership and we got the right management the team managing and we got the right personnel as administrative staff and the coaching staff and the players so this team is in a great position to be around this community for a long time and just like anything else Chris we got to win you know we win people will show up and want to be associated with that so hopefully we'll come out to shoot on Thursday and beat the Gladiators
Christopher: I heard that you're doing some of the TV broadcasts where can fans see the game at
Drew: I don't even know we haven't we haven't had a production meeting or anything yet cuz the first games not going to be on the radio or TV off so um uh we don't know where we're going to land at this point as far as I know and as soon as we do we'll let that be known for sure
The Frisco Fighters kick off their 2020 season This Thursday, March 12 at 7:05 pm when. they host the Duke City Gladiators who are 2-time champions of the Champions Indoor Football league. You can watch that game on YouTube.
Written by Chris Mabry
Yesterday in the Indoor Football League, the San Diego Strike Force traveled to Bismarck, North Dakota to take on the Bucks to close out week one of the 2020 IFL regular season. If Saturday nights high scoring game was a vision into the future? Then this game was going to be awesome.
Before the start of the game, the Bismarck Bucks were the favorites but at halftime the San Diego Strike Force were ahead 21-17. In the third quarter, the Bismarck Bucks quickly caught up with a 22-7 third quarter victory brining the score to 43-24 Bucks ahead. In the final quarter, the Strike Force showed that they wanted this win more than the Bismarck Bucks as they won with a final score of 50-36.
Michael Carrillo the quarterback for San Diego had a heck of a night when his final stats showed 9-17, 132 Yards passing, three passing touchdowns, and two rushing touchdowns, However, he did have two interceptions during the game. #14 Zuril Hendrick and #24 Marcus Green were credited with the INT today.
The Bismarck Bucks next game is March 14 when they take on the Sioux Falls Storm. That game is at 3:05 PM CT. As for the San Diego Strike Force, they play the Cedar Rapids River Kings at home on March 14. That game is at 6:05 PM Pacific Time. Both games can be seen on YouTube
By Chris Mabry
Last night the 2020 Indoor Football League season kicked off between the Quad City Steamwheelers and the Cedar Rapids Riverkings. After last years heated matchup on March of 2019 showed that even though the rivalry is young, it's very intense.
Let's begin with the Steamwheelers. E.J. Hillard returned as starting quarterback for the Quad City after an impressive 2019 that just saw them falling short of making the playoffs. Last night they started off. strong by beginning the game with a 40-yard kick return for a touchdown. The scoring didn't stop there. The Quad City Steamwheelers continued to score tallying a total of 54 points. Hillard only missed four passes, passed for 125-yards and rushed for 47-yards for three touchdowns.
The Quad City Steamwheelers next game is at home against the Arizona Rattlers. That game is on March 21, 2020 at 7:05 PM CT on YouTube.
Now let's talk about the home team Cedar Rapids Riverkings. With new owners and a brand new head coach in Victor Mann, who previously coached the Texas Revolution of the CIF he hopes to lead the River Kings to the promiseland. In the first three quarters of the game, Cedar Rapids struggled to score falling behind fast. In the Fourth quarter they tried to rally back from behind but continued to go nowhere. They got illavised penalties at the absolute wrong time. Derrick Bernard, the Cedar Rapids River Kings quarterback struggled last night going 9-23, 74 Passing Yds, 45 rushing yards, two passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and an interception.
The Cedar Rapids Riverkings play their next game on March 14, 2020 at 8:05 PM CT against the San Diego Strike Force on the road. This game can be seen on YouTube.
Quad City Steamwheelers @ Cedar Rapids River Kings
March 7, 2020, @ 7:05 PM
U.S. Cellular Center
What do you get when a historic franchise travels a mere 85 miles to take on a revamped, hungry team that dons the IFL’s best looking uniforms?
Short answer: A colorful blast!
Long answer: To quote a former AFL ad: a lightning fast; up and down, side-to-side, whiplash inducing roller-coaster! You’re guaranteed to enjoy the ride!
To kickoff the Indoor Football League's best season to date, it’s a battle for the Mississippi River!
Cedar Rapids prides themselves as “River Kings”, but that won’t stop the Quad Squad from seeking to Steamwheel last years’ punching bag! Cedar Rapids was shut out twice going down the stretch last year--leading to speculation that they wouldn’t be back for another year. But they are! Despite their 1-13 season a year ago, expectations are high. The signing of Head Coach Victor Mann and Defensive Coordinator Trae Ivory has River Kings fans hyped! What’s more, is the offense is expected to shine with Derrick Bernard coming over from the Omaha Beef, looking to sling the ball to the likes of the great Michael Dyer (Auburn) at running back, Tamarick Vanover and Bones Bagaunte, who tore it up for the Columbus Lions a year ago!
The defenses for both teams have improved on paper, but how that translates to the field will be revealed this Saturday night! Quad City just missed the playoffs last year, but boasted the leagues best offense, led by E.J. Hilliard. He’s back! He still has Quintin Pedroza and Keyvan Rudd to throw to, but the Steamwheelers added Speedy Noil to the squad, so this offense looks to soar again! The defense has been improved with the additions of Kafara Valentine and former Washington Redskin Ondre Pipkins to that D-line. Malik Duncan and Antonio Marshall have the secondary covered.
Match-up to watch: The battle between the River Kings receivers and Steamwheelers defensive backs is most intriguing here. Bones Baguante vs. Malik Duncan! Tamarick Vanover vs. Antonio Marshall! Wow!
Prediction: Michael Dyer could be the X-factor in this match-up, however Quad City’s offense is a superpower in this league, and Cedar Rapids defense doesn’t appear to be enough of a match. E.J. Hilliard is a football magician whose tricks dazzle the viewer leaving them to say, "How'd he do that!?" The Mississippi River trophy belongs in Moline for now.
By Ducon Williams