March is a busy and awesome time of the sports year. Not only are existing sports coming to an exciting conclusion, but several other sports resume their seasons. Let’s start with the always wacky world of indoor football. No arena changes at the top in the AFL, but as usual the minor leagues of indoor football remain in flux. Try to stay with me….The Southern Indoor Football League folded and their teams got dispersed into a couple new startup leagues: the Lone Star Football League and the Professional Indoor Football League (each featured a couple expansion clubs too). Then you have American Indoor Football (which dropped the A(ssociation) in its name), also picked up some of SIFL’s old teams. Then, amongst the other leagues, you have the IFL, which saw the departure of ten franchises. Phew!! So what does it all mean for the stadium world and The List:
We say goodbye to three venues: the LaCrosse Center, Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte and Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, WV. All three lost indoor football teams and those were the only sports being played in those facilities. What’s interesting about Huntington’s arena situation is that there are three for a region with an MSA ranked #162. There’s Marshall’s arena, Big Sandy and the Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse. There are some new additions to The List as Tupelo’s (MS) on again, off again facility is back on as BanCorp South Arena now hosts the Mississippi Hound Dogs. Also, speaking of cities with multiple arenas, Tulsa reaches ridiculous levels as they now have an APFL franchise playing in the Pavilion at Expo Square. That gives Tulsa an insane six arenas with at least a 3,500 seating capacity hosting sporting events.
Also resuming in March is MLB Spring Training and the MLS. That brings us two brand new and eagerly anticipated venues. In Fort Myers, the Boston Red Sox new facility, JetBlue Park opened to high acclaim. Their old spring training facility, City of Palms Park, remains in flux as plans are uncertain for its future. Meanwhile, in the MLS, the awesome new stadium trend continues, this time in downtown Houston as BBVA Compass Stadium provides a great home to Dynamo supporters. The lone expansion team this year is the Montreal Impact (I’m biased on the dislike side with them as they were rivals to my hometown Rhinos in the lower divisions for many years). They will play in the recently built Saputo Stadium, however until it reaches MLS standards, the Impact will be playing in the crumbling Olympic Stadium for a few months.
Finally, a quick plug as the new Stadium Journey Magazine is out (click here) and it is really worth a read for both arena and college basketball junkies. It’s focused on the NCAA Tournament and there’s a ton of good info in there, plus I have an article on the “5 Toughest Home Courts You May Not Know About”.