Professional indoor football returns to Albany on Saturday. The only difference than last year is that the Albany Panthers – not the now-defunct arenafootball2’s South Georgia Wildcats — will provide the fix for football fans as a member of the second-year Southern Indoor Football League.
Last year, the Wildcats finished a five-year run at the Albany Civic Center. Still, before even playing their first game, the Panthers already are facing a huge challenge, as one of their SIFL opponents — the Houston Lightning — dropped out of the league before the start of this season.
That leaves the SIFL with just four other franchises besides the Panthers taking the field in 2010 — the Columbus (Ga.) Lions, Greenville (S.C.) Force, Lafayette (La.) Wildcatters, and Louisiana Swashbucklers. A sixth franchise, the Augusta (Ga.) Mavericks, is slated to take the field in 2011.
Another challenge the Panthers face is their schedule. While they’ll spend the first month of the season playing at the Albany Civic Center, the Panthers will play the entire month of June on the road.
The Panthers open their inaugural campaign at home against Georgia archrival Columbus. That’s followed by an April 17 home game against Lafayette, then a Sunday home game facing Greenville on April 25.
The May slate includes the following contests: Columbus at home on the 8th, Louisiana at home on the 15th, followed by an away game against the Swashbucklers a week later, and a home game against Greenville on the 29th.
The June schedule for the Panthers is as follows: at Columbus on the 5th, at Lafayette on the 12th, at Greenville on the 19th, followed by one more visit to Columbus on the 26th.
Meanwhile, individual game tickets are now available for purchase at the Civic Center box office and via Ticketmaster. Tickets are $12, $16, $20, $26, $30 and $50.
A limited-time season ticket special is in effect until Friday. Buy two season tickets and receive the third season ticket for free (available for all price levels except $270). Season tickets are $60, $84, $108, $144, $162 and $270.
Season ticket holders will have the same seats for all six home games and first rights to their seats during the playoffs. Season ticket holders also receive 20 percent off Panthers merchandise, V.I.P. game entrance, preferred parking and access to other events.
To purchase season tickets or for general information, contact Elizabeth Faircloth or Carrie Council at 435-1230.
For more information about the Albany Panthers, visit their web site at www.albanypanthers.net. For more information about the Southern Indoor Football League, go to www.southernifl.com.
Written by Walter L. Johnson II