Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at the Albany Empire inaugural game and celebration. I took in the sights and sounds of the block party, the game and of course the retirement of “Touchdown” Eddie Brown’s #17 jersey.
The day brought back a lot of childhood memories. Back in the day the Firebirds were the talk of the town and the Pepsi Arena averaged about 10,000 people per game. Since the Firebirds left town in the early 2000s the Times Union Center hasn’t had a tenant that could draw a crowd to that capacity. Saturday that void might have been filled.
The day started with a block party on Pearl Street just outside the TU hosted by our good friends Mike Ryan and Christy over at Fly92. There was great music, venders and I got a chance to catch up with a couple Firebird fans to get their thoughts on what the future might hold for the Empire.
For the game itself, it was a sold-out crowd of 13,500 and was very reminiscent to the late 90s and early 2000s. There was a buzz in the building that I had not felt in almost two decades. It also helped that Eddie Brown had his jersey retired in the rafters and he brought his son Antonio Brown to witness the celebration.
As for the game itself the product on the field needs a little work, but in the Empire’s defense they did open up with the defending national champions. Time will tell if the Albany Empire will have longevity, but I’m sold.
P.S. I think they lost because they never played the Van Halen intro…
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