Some Stadiums Ready For More Football

AAF kicks off first weekend in San Antonio, Orlando, Tempe, Birmingham

  • by Noelle Riley
  • Published: February 6, 2019

Stadiums hosting the four inaugural Alliance of American Football games this weekend have been busy prepping fields, changing signs and stocking venues with merchandise.

The start-up pro football league comprises eight teams, all of which play in stadiums that are home to college football programs. It will play a 10-week regular-season schedule starting Saturday before moving to the postseason.

The Alamodome in San Antonio will host one of two games Saturday between the hometown Commanders and the San Diego Fleet.

The 64,000-capacity stadium hosted the AAF training camp and four preseason games that weren’t open to the public, giving the venue an opportunity to test the waters before regular-season games begin, said Andrea DeLaune, marketing manager for the city of San Antonio, which manages the Alamodome.

“We’ve been painting the field, putting up all the logos and prepping for the crowds,” she said. “I’m told that we are leading the league as far as ticket sales and merchandise sales go.”

The AAF was founded by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Famer Bill Polian, a longtime team executive in the NFL. The league will operate as a single entity, with no team owners.

Last month, the AAF announced Aramark as the league’s official retail merchandise concessionaire and e-commerce provider. Aramark is in charge of stocking each AAF host venue with team merchandise.

Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Fla., will also host a game Saturday between its tenant, the Orlando Apollos, and the Atlanta Legends. The stadium has 45,000 seats and is on the University of Central Florida campus.

Unlike the Alamodome, which sells alcohol at every event and game, the Orlando stadium does not serve for UCF football games. Spectra is the food and beverage manager of the venue, and the Spectra team is working to stock 26 concession stands with alcohol, said Matt Oberlin, assistant athletic director for event management at UCF.

Spectrum Stadium, as well as the other stadiums, also have to swap out signs for the new league. “We’re taking down all of our signing and branding. Coordinating that has been a pretty big deal. We have events between their events,” Oberlin said.

Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., is home to the AAF Arizona Hotshots, who will take on the Salt Lake Stallions on Sunday at home. Sun Devil Stadium has 53,500 seats and sits on Arizona State University’s campus. The stadium sells alcohol at every venue event so will not have to make any changes for the league’s arrival, said Victor Hamburger, senior director of ASU 365 Community Union.

The 365 Community Union is a group at Sun Devil Stadium that works to fill the venue with events 365 days a year.

“Having a tenant like the Arizona Hotshots is a good for us as we go for those 365-day goals,” Hamburger said.

Also on Sunday, the Birmingham Iron will host Memphis Express at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Legion Field, home to the UAB football program, did not return calls for comment before this story was published.

CBS is scheduled to broadcast the league’s opening day games. CBS Sports Network will be home to games the rest of the season.

  • by Noelle Riley
  • Published: February 6, 2019