ALBANY — Next summer the Albany Panthers hope to be able to reclaim their spot atop the PIFL standings after having their streak of two straight league championships snapped last season.
Now the indoor football team has a road map back to the top.
On Thursday, Panthers general manager Will Carter released the team’s 2014 schedule and also announced a season-ticket package that will allow fans to purchase tickets at extremely discounted rates.
The Panthers begin their 2014 campaign with two straight home games on March 22 against the Nashville Venum and April 5 against the Alabama Hammers before playing back-to-back games on the road against arch-rival Columbus on April 11 and April 26.
A new-look Panthers roster will be trying to bounce back from last year’s 7-6 record, and with the franchise’s 23-3 record in the Albany Civic Center over the past four years, two straight games at home to start the season could be the perfect way to ease in the new squad.
“We are a lot better team at home over the last four years than we are on the road,” Carter said. “It’s always tough to win football games on the road. I know our players truly enjoy playing in front of the home crowd. You feel comfortable. You have your fans willing you to victory. On the road, it may just be myself and the owner.”
After Albany’s games at Columbus, the Panthers return home May 3 for a matchup against Nashville and end the season with nine games in 10 weeks, finishing up with a June 28 game at home against Columbus.
For the first time, the PIFL will be split into American and National conferences, with Albany, Columbus, Alabama and Nashville making up the American Conference and Harrisburg, Trenton, Lehigh Valley and Richmond making up the National Conference.
The Panthers will play Columbus and Nashville three times, defending league champion Alabama twice and each team from the National Conference once.
TICKET PROMOTION: Carter announced that fans will be able to purchase a package of five season tickets for the upper bowl of the Civic Center for just $50.
It’s a package that would have cost fans $300 in previous seasons when individual season tickets were priced at $60 for the six-game regular-season schedule.
“A family of four plus one can come to all of the Panthers regular season (home) games for $50,” Carter said. “I do understand the things going on in our economy and that the times are hard. I really wanted to make a special offer for our fifth anniversary for everyone who has supported us.”
The Panthers home games will be March 22 vs. Nashville, April 5 vs. Alabama, May 3 vs. Nashville, May 31 vs. Richmond, June 14 vs. Lehigh Valley and June 28 vs. Columbus.
“We want to be able to give (the fans) an opportunity to come out and enjoy a family-friendly environment, great entertainment and great football,” Carter said. “We want everybody to be able to attend our games, and I want to be able to give an offer that basically gives no one an excuse not to make our games.”