John Letasky REDWIRE
"If you build it they will come," is a line every one who watched the film "Field of Dreams" has heard.
In the movie it was a touching and inspirational line both. Sports promoters in Billings, Montana, probably wish the same were true here.
The Billings Outlaws of the National Indoor Football League would definitely benefit from having more fans in the seats. Think about it, fans in the seats generate the Outlaws' revenue.
The Outlaws are in the NIFL, not the NFL, so their merchandise doesn't bring in big dollars. A lot of people wearing Outlaws shirts probably got them for free or bought them at a discounted rate.
Plus, the Outlaws do not play in their own building. Hence, they can't sell the name of the arena as many professional teams do to make ends meet. They also do not have the ability to market signs at the arena and they do not get the money from concessions.
If all the money people spent to eat hot dogs and drink beer at Metra went to the Outlaws, they'd be all right. But the team doesn't see a penny.
Then the Outlaws have to pay their players and although it's only $200 a game that money still adds up. And the money has to come from somewhere - it just doesn't grow on trees. The franchise also accommodates the players with many fringe benefits.
Then there is the part where the coaching staff must receive a paycheck. Don't kid yourselves by thinking a coach would spend the incredible amount of time with the team and on the team that Joe Curtiss does and not get paid.
And travel expenses have to come from somewhere.
To make a long story short, every where one looks, the Outlaws have expenses.
Outlaws owner Duane Anderson and Curtiss have done a tremendous job putting together a quality football team that plays pretty good ball.
There are many former Rocky Mountain College players and University of Montana players on the team.
Local Billings products like Chase Raynock are out there competing.
And the action at games doesn't consist of just football. It's a good social time for people who attend.
There is plenty of upbeat music in between plays.
There are promotional nights and give-away games played during the break.
Little Guy Football teams have got to suit up and play on Metra's field.
The Ten Most Wanted dance team is extremely entertaining and puts on a fast-paced, energetic show.
And the games are indoors, so there's no need to worry about getting wet in the rain.
This is not just a game, it's showmanship.
The Outlaws host Lincoln, Neb., Saturday May 17 at Metra at 7:05 p.m. For a great game and sideshow, be there. The Outlaws have to start drawing more than 2,800. If they don't, we just might not have a team next year.
And after the IBA's Billings RimRockers basketball team all ready folded, who would start another semi-professional team in any sport in town? Probably no one.
(E-mail John Letasky at firstname.lastname@example.org.)