Craving football in the Ravens off-season? You’re in luck! This month, the Arena Football League (AFL) kicks off its inaugural season in Charm City with the brand-new Baltimore Brigade. The indoor team has the first of its 14 games on April 7 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., followed by its home opener shortly after that at the Royal Farms Arena on May 7.
“The arena is thrilled that the Baltimore Brigade will play at our venue this spring and summer,” says Frank Remesch, general manager of the Royal Farms Arena, which also features indoor soccer games played by the Baltimore Blast. “Baltimore has always been a sports town, and we are proud to continue that tradition.”
The AFL has many of the same rules as the NFL, but with a smaller field and fewer players (eight on the field at a time per team compared to the NFL’s 11, with a roster of 24 compared to the NFL’s typical 53). The AFL uses a rebound net, which can keep the ball in play, and sorry boys—no punting allowed (on fourth down, a team may go for a first down, touchdown, or field goal).
In their sleek blue and silver uniforms, the Baltimore Brigade includes seasoned players and rookie talent, with a few athletes hailing from Maryland and even Baltimore. “You have to have great people from top to bottom,” says head coach Omarr Smith, a longtime AFL champion. “Building a football team from scratch is a huge challenge and I’m excited about the opportunity.”
In a city that treasures its underdog status, the team hopes to gain a loyal following. “Baltimore has a great fan base for all of its sports,” says wide receiver LaQuan Williams, who played at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and the University of Maryland before joining the Ravens in 2011 and now the Baltimore Brigade. “I’m excited to see how the town takes to the new team. It’s an exciting game and it gives the community something new to cheer for.”