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AFL game to be played in the biggest arena of all– the great outdoors

Feb 19, 2011, 1:38 PM EDT

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What’s in a name? Well, if you’re the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League, not a whole lot, necessarily. That’s because this July, the Shock will be partaking in a bit of reverse football pioneering as they take on the Utah Blaze at Joe Albi Stadium– that’s right, stadium, as in the kind that’s outdoors…very much unlike an arena. I’d cry more about the malapropism now inherent in the name, but in a world where there’s jazz in Utah (and “blaze” too, apparently), I guess everything is in play. But how exactly is arena football to be played outside?

Well, from the American Chronicle:

Many details have to be ironed out, but the 50-yard field with 8-yard end zones is expected to be situated roughly between the 15-yard lines. It hasn’t been determined if the teams will play on Albi’s FieldTurf or the Shock’s artificial turf. Dasherboards used for a Shock exhibition game in Yakima in 2008 will be used at Albi. Nets will be hung and stabilized by cranes.

Ah yes, an elaborate series of cranes and nets, just like how we all used to play as kids. At least it should create some jobs (grane guy is a job, right?). Besides, any league in America not named the NFL could use some some publicity, and moving the indoor version of the game beyond the bounds of architecture is a creative way to get some, all the while putting more of a showcase on the considerable talents of their players. Not to mention the possible NASCAR-style controlled chaos of padded athletes crashing each other into walls in the rain sounds like too much fun to pass up.

“A lot of people are like, ‘Arena football outside?’ but to me arena football is the 50-yard field with walls and nets,” Spokane Shock owner, Brady Nelson said. “It’s the rules, the style of the game and the closeness of the fans to the field and they get to meet the players. That’s arena football.

Well, yeah, that and the goofy team names and the grocery baggers-turned-Super Bowl-MVPs, but yeah, the spirit is there.

Let’s just hope Mother Nature plays along…and again, just to be clear, I hope that means rain. A lot of rain. Maybe some hail. And next time, let’s really get ballsy and schedule something for the winter, huh? It would be a lot like hockey, only if hockey were actually entertaining.

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Spokane Shock set July 9 outdoors game at Albi Stadium [AmericanChronicle.com]