Here’s a curve ball for you: football at Toyota Field!
The Rocket City Trash Pandas’ home will be turned into a soccer field for a game on October 15. The University of North Alabama Lions will face local rival Jacksonville State University.
The game will be a bit different compared to other soccer games. The NCAA conference and ASUN gave UNA approval earlier this month to play a one-way game. This means that all offensive drives, field goals and extra kicks will be directed to the first base dugout, where a goal post will be set up. This is because there was not enough space for a second end zone to keep players safe.
The game will be modeled after a Big 10 game between Northwestern and Illinois at Wrigley Field in 2010. Still, it will be the first game of its kind for the football championship subdivision and the second in Division I football history.
“We are thrilled to be hosting a one-of-a-kind football viewing event in a state-of-the-art facility,” said UNA Director of Athletics Josh Looney.
The game is expected to sell with around 10,000 fans.
“We’re bringing everyone to this area to put on the biggest event in Toyota Field history,” Rocket City Trash Pandas general manager Garrett Fahrmann said.
Fans are encouraged to come early and stay late to explore the area.
The president and CEO of the Huntsville Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau expects the game to have an economic impact of $1 million.
The manager of Moe’s BBQ across the street said it didn’t surprise him, especially since it was a rivalry game between the UNA Lions and the Jacksonville Gamecocks.
“I think that makes it an even bigger deal that a lot of people are going to appreciate,” restaurant manager Davison Payne said.
Payne has seen the impact events can have on the business. Toyota Field has hosted 275 non-baseball events over the past two years, from the Big Ol’ Fair and Christmas fairs to balls and weddings.
“It’s not just a ballpark. They really use this space to host all kinds of events which for us and for the rest of the businesses here in Town Madison is really going to help us grow,” explained Payne. .
Madison Mayor Paul Finley said the game will also allow students to learn about the area and potentially add them to the local workforce.
“Transfer them to available jobs at Research Park, Redstone Arsenal and other organizations,” Finley explained.
It’s an economic boom that local businesses expect to continue.
“Every day it’s changing and growing, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon,” Payne said.
Tickets for the football match are expected to go on sale in mid-July. One way to guarantee a spot is to become a season ticket holder for UNA or Trash Pandas.