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Credit out of the batter’s box thinking: UNA Lions to play football on Toyota Field’s baseball diamond this fall

MADISON — Only in a city of rocket scientists and engineers would you not be shocked to hear they are turning Toyota Field’s pitcher’s mound and home plate into goalposts and hash marks – temporarily.

But it’s true!

Madison Mayor Paul Finley, the University of North Alabama, the Rocket City Trash Pandas and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that Toyota Field will take on a new configuration to handle the gridiron and welcome college football to Madison and the Rocket City for the first time.

The in-state rivalry clash between the North Alabama Lions and ASUN Conference rival Jacksonville State Gamecocks is set to kick off at 6 p.m. at Toyota Field on October 15. Known as “one-way” football, there will be one goalpost for both teams.

The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau played a significant role in bringing the parties together for the event. The partnership hits a homerun for the CVB who will welcome fans to the Rocket City and the surrounding area, to fill the hotels as a capacity crowd of 10,000 is expected for the game, creating an estimated economic impact of $1 million for the area.

“Over the past two years we have had a lot of non-baseball events at Toyota Field,” said Garrett Fahrmann, general manager of the Rocket City Trash Pandas. “Thanks to the special relationships forged over the last few months, we look forward to welcoming UNA to Toyota Field for a one-of-a-kind experience that we offer all our fans every night during baseball season.”

He added that the Trash Pandas were known for a fan-experience focused production and the game will continue that Toyota Field tradition with special experiences available throughout the facility.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley pointed out that in the past two years there have been over 275 non-baseball events happen at Toyota Field ranging from a fair to Christmas lights, weddings, high school proms, and both high school and college baseball.

“When we built Toyota Field, the vision for the venue was always to serve as a multi-use space for many different events in the City of Madison,” said Finley. “The one thing we have never done as we look to go forward is adding goalposts to what we are doing. With the help of UNA, we are going to do that.

And even better, the economic impact will be crazy good for our city; crazy good for our community,” he added.

UNA president Dr. Ken Kitts said UNA is excited to bring the tradition and pageantry of UNA football to Toyota Field this fall.

“The Madison-Huntsville market is key for us – not only because of our large alumni base, but because of the depth of outstanding students in the area who are potential UNA students,” said Kitts. “Hosting this game is a tremendous opportunity for us to expand our brand and embrace the next generation of UNA students. We are energized by this partnership and look forward to seeing where it goes.”

Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau said they are proud to have led the charge in bringing the game to fruition and reimagining Toyota Field as a football facility.

“In a state that has a deep passion for football, we look forward to maximizing the opportunity to bring visitors in for the weekend, but also to introduce people to our area through the ESPN+ broadcast to show why the Rocket City is such a special place.”

ESPN+ will be broadcasting the game live.

The matchup will be presented by MartinFed, one of the nation’s leading federal contractors headquartered in Huntsville. Their support continues their commitment to excellence and finding ways for their clients to succeed.

Matthew Schmitz, a UNA alumnus and chief growth officer for MartinFed said, “MartinFed is proud to be the presenting sponsor of a great event that showcases such amazing teams and organizations. Investing in our communities is part of our corporate culture and we couldn’t be more excited for this event.”

Tickets for the game will go on sale to the public on July 18 through the Trash Pandas box office outlets. Season ticket holders of both UNA and the Trash Pandas will have presale opportunities in advance of the public sale. There are also several premium options available – including on-field cabanas, dugout suite, sky deck seats, and mini suites in the SportsMed Club area.

Engineers promise the baseball season will be over when they start the transformation, and it will revert to the diamond faster than the 2023 Trash Pandas can swing a bat at it.

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