Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Arena Football League's Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz Ready to Kick off Season

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Arena Football League's Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz Ready to Kick off Season

Article excerpt

The Arena Football League's Oklahoma City franchise, the Yard Dawgz, now finishing the last days of training camp before the team's season opener March 27, foresees even stronger fan support this season at the Cox Convention Center, General Manager Christie Cook said.

The team may garner a little more attention within the league itself, too. In December, the management of the AFL announced the cancellation of its 2009 season pending an agreement with the players union. But that won't directly affect the 25 second-tier af2 teams. So while the premier league is reorganizing, the Yard Dawgz will play up their strengths on the field under the hand of returning coach Sparky McEwen.

And maybe, just maybe, get promoted.

"We're in what arena-2 calls a 'tweener' market because we have the demographics, and we could easily move up to an arena-1 franchise," she said. "We would need to continue on with our strong corporate and fan support to make that decision an easy one for our ownership."

On Wednesday, the Dawgz hit the field in pads for the first time, just two weeks ahead of the team's first game in Amarillo. Their first home game is scheduled April 4 against the South Georgia Wildcats. The season ends in July with playoffs in August.

Cook said the team is excited about its move to the Cox Convention Center while the Ford Center is under renovation. She said she is pleased with improvements to the convention center's scoreboard, locker rooms and coaches' offices, and the potential for a sellout capacity of 10,000. The team's average attendance last year was 7,200.

The team's 6-10 record last year failed to take them to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. The Dawgz started slow in 2008, Cook said, but finished strong after bringing back McEwen midseason on a two-year contract. When he took over for Gary Reasons, the team was struggling with a 1-5 record.

"Our final home games were probably two of the most exciting arena football games I've ever witnessed," she said. …

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