Professional football will make its return to the Rockford area next month. The interesting twist this time is, instead of playing outdoors, the games will be played inside the MetroCentre.
The Rock River Raptors will begin their inaugural season in the United Indoor Football League (UIF) with an away game against the Evansville Bluecats March 25. Their home opener will be at the MetroCentre the following Saturday night, April 1, at 7:30 p.m. against the defending UIF champion Sioux Falls Storm. All home games will be played Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m.
The Raptors will join the Bloomington Extreme and the Peoria Rough Riders in the Central Division. They will play a total of 15 games over a 16-week schedule.
Following the home opener, the team goes on the road for two consecutive weeks, April 8 against division opponent Bloomington, and April 15 to tackle the Storm. They will wrap up the month of April with two home games. The Rough Riders will make their MetroCentre debut Saturday, April 22. The Omaha Beef comes to town the following week.
The Raptors open the month of May against the Extreme with their third consecutive home game. Then they are on the road to Fort Wayne, Ind., to play the Freedom May 12. They have a home game the next week against the Lexington Horsemen. The Raptors bye week finally comes May 27.
They begin the month of June with a chance to take on the Horsemen again, this time in Kentucky Saturday, June 3. From Lexington, they travel to Omaha for a game June 10.
Its back home again June 17 to play the Freedom and another home game to finish the month June 24 against the Extreme.
They finish the season with an away game July 1 in Peoria, and a home game July 8 against the Ohio Valley Greyhounds.
Fans can purchase season tickets or individual game tickets by calling the Raptors office at 815-965-7000.
Doug Halberstadt is a local resident and is track announcer at Rockford Speedway. He can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Feb. 22-28, 2006, issue