The Rocket City Trash Pandas home stadium, Toyota Field, will still see some sports action after baseball season is over this fall. The stadium will host a football game between the University of North Alabama and Jacksonville State Oct. 15.
This will be the first time the stadium has hosted a football game, and because of its configuration, the game — which will be televised on ESPN+ — will have some unique features.
The first ‘one-direction’ football game in FCS history
Because of the configuration of Toyota Field, the football game will be a “one-direction” game, which means both offenses will use the same end zone. This is the first time in NCAA Football Championship Subdivision history that this format will be used. A one-direction game at Chicago’s Wrigley Field took place between Illinois and Northwestern in 2010.
When each team has possession, the ball will be placed at the corresponding yard line to face the direction toward the first base dugout where the end zone will be placed.
If the defense intercepts a pass or picks up a fumble, the defender will run the length of the field to where a second end zone would be. The extra point would then be attempted at the opposite end.
“While this event has some unique characteristics to it, our focus is on keeping the same mindset we have for Trash Pandas games – to create a special fan experience that will want them to come back for another event at Toyota Field.”Garrett Fahrmann, General Manager of the Rocket City Trash Pandas
Event organizers tried to make a two-end-zone field work inside the stadium but came up a few yards short, according to Joel Lamp, convention sales manager at the Huntsville-Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The game will have a significant financial impact on Madison County
The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau said bringing fans to fill the hotels throughout the area — a capacity crowd of 10,000 is expected for the game — will create an estimated economic impact of $1 million for the area.
However, the immediate impact is not the only benefit of the event. CVB officials say the game will also bring some positive attention to the area nationwide.
“In a state that has a deep passion for football, we are proud to lead the charge in bringing this game to fruition and the re-imagining of Toyota Field as a football facility. We look forward to maximizing the opportunity to bring visitors in for the weekend, but also to introduce people to our area through the ESPN+ broadcast to show why the Rocket City is such a special place.”Judy Ryals, President and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau
For UNA, the home game at Toyota Field not only brings them to Madison for the first time, but it brings the state’s fastest-growing university to one of its largest bases for alumni and prospective students.
Interested in attending the game? Act fast, because a sell-out is expected
With just a 10,000-seat capacity, organizers are expecting a sell-out for the Oct. 15 game.
“Hosting our in-state rival at Toyota Field is going to be a tremendous experience for our student-athletes, coaches, alumni, and fans to enjoy. This is a region rich in UNA pride and we are honored to have this opportunity to showcase our program in a state-of-the-art facility as we continue to build football into a championship caliber program at the Division I level.”UNA Director of Athletics Dr. Josh Looney
Tickets for the game will go on sale to the public on July 18 through the Trash Pandas box office outlets. Season ticket holders of both UNA and the Trash Pandas will have presale opportunities in advance of the public sale. There are also several premium options available – including on-field cabanas, dugout suite, sky deck seats and mini suites in the SportsMed Club area.
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