Category Archives: Steel Hawks

EXCLUSIVE! @SteelHawksPIFL GM/Executive VP Mike Clark Interview

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2015 will be the fifth season of SteelHawks football in the Lehigh Valley.  Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with SteelHawks General Manager and Executive Vice President Mike Clark, to discuss the SteelHawks 2015 season and the move to the new PPL Center in Allentown.

Kram:  Congratulations on your move to the brand new PPL Center.  It seemed to be the worst-kept secret in the Lehigh Valley.  Was the move a foregone conclusion?  Were there any issues with the move that you didn’t anticipate?

Mike Clark:  Yeah, worst-kept is an understatement.  But, no, everything with the negotiations went as expected.  I guess the only thing was the delays with the arena deal itself and the construction which didn’t allow us to complete our deal in time for LAST season.  We’ve been welcomed by the Arena and the Phantoms organization–we’re thrilled, and this is going to take us to a new level.

Kram:  Parking is a big concern for the fans overall–be it concerts or hockey or now SteelHawks Professional Indoor Football.  What are your thoughts on the matter, and what was your personal experience when you were downtown the other night?

MC:  I went to Tom Petty the other night, as you said, and I was shocked.  It was a sold-out concert of 10,000 people, and I got out, and home to Bethlehem in 15 minutes.  The traffic flow was great.  And, while we’d love to have 10,000 for SteelHawks, it will certainly be less.  And the other advantage for the Phantoms and SteelHawks games is that the parking will be $6.00 rather than the $10.00 for concerts.  The other great part for the SteelHawks is, a lot of those kinks will be worked out before our season starts in the Spring. But my first experience, at only their second event there, was great.  I was also impressed with their security down there.

Kram: Over the past five years, a tailgating culture has grown surrounding the SteelHawks games.  Do you think there might be an opportunity to get permission from the City of Allentown to designate one lot as a “tailgating lot?”  

MC:  Unfortunately, I don’t think so.  What the city is trying to do, is bring folks downtown to patronize the restaurants and bars in that area–and with three restaurants built right into the arena, it’s probably not going to work.  One of the draws of downtown, now, is the food and beverage.  What we’re trying to do, from an interactive standpoint, is use the area on that corner for, say, moon-bounces and so on to create a kind of party-atmosphere outside the gates on game days.  We’ll try to create a pre-game celebration that way.  Inside, perhaps Chickie’s and Pete’s will have some kind of tailgate-party scenario.

Kram:  There are a variety of “premium” seating and luxury group areas in the new arena.  Will any of those be available on a game-by-game basis for SteelHawks football?

MC:  Yes, groups will be able to purchase or sponsor any of the available luxury areas, including the “bunker” ice-level suites for corporate outings or such, or in conjunction with sponsorships.

Kram:  What color will the field be? –PLEASE tell me green….

MC:  Umm…no comment…  I cannot divulge that at this time.  Well, I CAN tell you it won’t be red and blue, like Trenton.  But it will be our field, with our sponsors, and it will be brand new turf.    That should alleviate some of the problems we’ve had in the past with the used turf.

Kram:  The arena has a wide variety of concession areas.  Will they all be open and available to SteelHawks fans on game days?

MC:  Yup.  Everything will be open, and available for our fans.

Kram:  I see the upper level–200 level–isn’t shown on your seating chart.  Will it be open?  

MC:  At the moment, no, we’re only going to be selling tickets in the lower bowl.  We have the ability to open it, if need be, if the ticket sales demand it.  That would be a good problem to have.

Kram:  The AHL hockey schedule is out, and the PIFL schedule is expected soon.  Do you think there’s an opportunity for a “downtown doubleheader” where both the SteelHawks and Phantoms play on the same day?  (I think that would be a great sports day downtown–come down and park once, go out to eat between games, and stay all day.)

MC:   Rob Brooks from the Phantoms alluded to that during our press conference.  There’s a very distinct possibility; it could definitely happen.  For this season, with the way our schedule is looking, it might depend somewhat on the Phantom’s playoff schedule–as well as other events the arena might have in the works during that time.  Right now, we’re looking at opening up in early April, second week.  And I don’t think we’d want to do that for our very first opener at PPL Center, but thinking past that, it will probably depend on the Phantom’s playoff schedule–if they make it, and we hope they do.  The changeover from football to hockey–or vice versa–can happen in under three hours, if it needs to happen.

Kram:   Will SteelHawks’ gear be available in the Phantom’s shop?  Or just on SteelHawks game days?

MC:  We’ll have a kiosk set up during the SteelHawks games.  But, if fans need gear–or even personalized, we can always do that through our Bethlehem office.  We’ll also have a presence there during hockey games sometimes, distributing season ticket information and the like.  It’s a very nice relationship with the Phantoms.

Kram:  The next few questions are about the 2015 team:  This is the time of year when each franchise is quite optimistic about their chances to be competitive.  I see you’ve signed a few players already–and other than the new arena–is there anything that has you more optimistic than usual for the upcoming season?  For, perhaps another trip to the playoffs or another trip to the Championship game?

MC:  Veteran leadership.  Players like Larry Ford and Brandon Renford who are going to be around for, now, their third season with the team.  It’s always good to have that presence around–both on the field, as well as in the community.  It’s still early in the recruiting process, and we’ve had players calling us, as opposed to having to go out and call them.  I think we’ve developed a reputation–as far as the way players are treated here–around the league–if they hear good things about a place it makes the recruiting process easier.

Kram:  Has the arena helped with recruiting?

MC:  Huge.  It’s been huge in the recruiting process. We just had Jeff Morgan, starting LB for Trenton last year–we signed him the other day–took him on a tour, and he was just in awe.  He hurt us big-time last year when he played against us.  I think last year when they played us here he had an interception return for a TD and a fumble return for a TD.  To get a player like that, it’s huge to have the arena as kind of a “closer.”  I mean, I think this is going to be the best arena in indoor football, AFL included.  The amenities and newness–the facilities as far as the locker rooms–it’s going to blow this sport out of the water.  We like to say, “We’re going from the shack to the mansion.”

Kram:  You mentioned Trenton.  I know there’s a rivalry with our neighbors to the Southeast, what with coaches and players moving between the teams.  Would you characterize the rivalry as a friendly one?  Or, more heated?

MC:  Heated.  I would say.  It’s heated.  But, I love their ownership group, and from a business perspective the growing rivalry–it’s good for our sport.  And, only an hour away, there’s going to be a lot of players switching teams.  We swapped kickers.  We got their star LB and their first-team DE.  They got our star DB–two of them.  One was our team MVP.  There’s gonna be that battle for players, and it’s gonna be a very, very heated rivalry on the football side of it.

Kram:  Watching the team last season, I felt like defense was a key to the team’s success.  Do you agree?  And do you expect that to be a strength of the 2015 squad?

MC:  I’m a defensive guy.  I think defenses win you championships–especially in this sport, because it’s so predicated on offense.  When you get those three to four stops per game on defense, you should win.  Our defense was huge last season–especially in those first four games, allowing us to jump out 4-0, is what got us into the playoffs.  In addition to DL Larry Ford and LB Jeffery Morgan (from Trenton) we’ve signed DL Gerald Bryant who had 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss.

Defense, in my opinion, is something you’ve got to get early, and keep building on it.  Without a pass rush in this game, well, and strong D-backs–you’re not going to win many games.  We’ve got to get those 3-4 stops.  I love defense.  When we get those star defensive recruits to sign, It’s exciting.

Kram:  A couple questions about the league–the PIFL:  I’ve heard rumors about expansion.  Is there anything to that?

MC:  We’re definitely going to have our eight teams, and whether we can get to ten this year–we should know more in the next week, week-and-a-half.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if we have as many as six new teams for the 2016 season.  But we’ll have to see.  For now, I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance we go to 10 teams for 2015–some teams might like to start early in the process for 2016 in order to start building their brand.

Kram:  Given the possibilities of expansion, do you foresee a time when the schedule might expand from six home games?

MC:  I don’t think so.  I think the owners really like the 12-game schedule.  Once you expand to 14–that would only be one more game at home–that’s a whole extra month of the season, and overhead, for that one home game.  It’s more taxing on the teams, players, and front offices, that extra month.  But we’ll never go down–I think 12 is where we’re going to be.  A lot of our teams share buildings with hockey, too, so that’s part of it.

Kram:  Last season many of us who are fans were, uh, disappointed with the quality of the officiating.  Is that something that’s being addressed league-wide?

MC:  Yeah, I think a lot of the owners, and our league, were not too impressed with the officiating last season.  At our league meetings in early November, probably expansion is topic 1, but officiating and where we see growing and improving the officiating will be topic 1-A.  I’m sure every team feels like more bad calls went against them, rather than for them.  It’s definitely a huge topic of concern, at the ownership level, for when we go to league meetings.

I’d like to thank Mike for his time.  It was great talking SteelHawks football with him.  Lunch at Black Forest Deli isn’t too bad, either!

Season ticket packages are on sale now, for the 2015 season at the PPL Center.  You can fill out an inquiry form here.  Or, you can call the SteelHawks at 610-282-3100 to choose your seats.  Season ticket packages start at just $48.00!

steelhawks seating prices

See you at the arena!

@Kram209 (baseball)

Kram106 (hockey)

Kram116 (football)

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SteelHawks Season Ticket News: @PPLcenter @SteehawksPIFL

News went out late yesterday to Season Ticket Holders, regarding the SteelHawks move into the gorgeous new PPL Center Arena in Allentown.  The email included ticket plan pricing and a seating chart:
steelhawks seating prices

Pretty cool!  Let me point out a couple things:

  1. Math.  Based on a six-game home schedule, the ticket prices start at $8/game.  The next level is $13 for end zones, $18 for sidelines, $27.50 for rows 2-6(?), and $37.50 for front row.  The most expensive ticket is cheaper than most hockey tickets!  It’s only six games!
  2. New is good.  The nicer seats and the video boards alone are worth a price increase, and it looks like most levels are the same–or similar.  I also look forward to the nicer and better (and, yes, probably more expensive) concession choices.
  3. Bad news.  Of course, the parking.  It should be easier than hockey or concerts, but still… and, it will cost money compared with the free parking (actually, it wasn’t free–the SteelHawks just paid for it for us) at Stabler.  Expect $6 or so.
  4. More bad news:  No Tailgating.  I’ve got some ideas about this, but it’s already been announced that there’s a “no tailgating” policy at the arena.
  5. No Upper Level:  It appears that the upper level will be closed.  I’ll check on this, though, as I really wouldn’t mind sitting up there.  Perhaps GA can–we’ll see.
  6. My advice:  Get Season Tickets!  Here’s why:
    1. You’ll save on fees.  I promise you the single ticket fees alone for that arena will drive your ticket prices up to the point where you probably could purchase another game or three.
    2. You’ll sit where you want.  Lock in your seat–the arena is a little bigger and now the view of the video board comes into play.  Choose your seat now.
    3. The more games you go to, the more you’ll learn the tricks of the parking.  And, by the time the arena football season starts in March, all the bugs will have been worked out downtown.
    4. There are restaurants and such downtown–stuff to do before and after a game.
    5. Arena football is a blast!  I didn’t believe it at first, but I really do like it.  The pace of the game and the high scoring are intense features.  And, not nearly as many timeouts and dead time compared with NFL or NCAA football.  You’ll love it!

Right now, season ticket plans are available to current season ticket holders, however, they’ll soon be available to the public.  Call 610-282-3100.

More news as it becomes available.

 

See you at the arena,

@Kram209

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STEELHAWKS MOVING TO A NEW NEST

Will Now Call PPL Center Home

Allentown, PA: Beginning the 2015 season, the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks will have a new nest in the PPL Center! In a press conference today, the team announced that they will be making the move from Stabler Arena in Bethlehem to the brand new PPL Center in downtown Allentown.
“The move to the PPL Center enhances our product in so many ways,” stated Steelhawks General Manager Mike Clark. “From the sightlines for the patrons, to the state-of-the-art jumbotron, to the accessibility for all fans being in a downtown area, the PPL Center is going to bring a whole new level of entertainment to the entire Lehigh Valley. We truly appreciate the last four years inside Stabler Arena but we couldn’t be more thrilled to call this our new home.”

The Steelhawks will play all of their home games inside of the state-of-the-art facility that can hold a crowd of 8,500. The arena features an amazing jumbotron, three restaurants (including the famous Chickie’s and Pete’s, Tim Horton’s, and Crust), and great views of the game from anywhere in the building. The new venue will open many doors to allow the Steelhawks’ to bring more entertainment value to all their fans. As a football field, it will be a full 50 yards longs (plus eight yard endzones), and will feature the rounded off endzones that most of the teams in the league have.

“We’re thrilled that the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks have decided to make PPL Center their new home,” said Global Spectrum’s Gunnar Fox, General Manager of PPL Center. “We truly feel that having the Steelhawks as a tenant team will enhance the diverse line-up of events that PPL Center has to offer which now includes arena football.”

The PPL Center (pplcenter.com) is a Global-Spectrum managed state-of-the-art multipurpose arena opening this September in downtown Allentown, Pa. The arena will seat more than 10,000 for concerts and more than 8,500 for Steelhawks contests, making it the region’s largest events venue. The amenities-packed PPL Center will host more than 140 events each year, offering something for everyone, including the Phantoms, the AHL affiliate of the NHL Philadelphia Flyers, live concerts, family shows, trade shows, figure skating events, youth sports, high school and collegiate events, Disney on Ice, conferences, graduations and many more events. PPL Center will be the heart of the Lehigh Valley and is currently the main catalyst to the revitalization and growth of downtown Allentown.

Rob and Jim Brooks were also on hand for today’s announcements. “We are excited to welcome the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks to the PPL Center,” said Rob Brooks, owner of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the American Hockey League and BDH Development, the master leaseholder of PPL Center. “We look forward to a long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnership between PPL Center and the Steelhawks and are excited to have the team join us during our inaugural season.”

In other news today, in the team’s first 2015 player contract was signed by veteran DL Larry Ford (6’4, 265, West Virginia). He was named to the 2013 All-PIFL 2nd team in a season in which he claimed the team’s single sack record (7.5). He recorded eight tackles, one tackle for a loss, and two sacks in the Steelhawks 2014 campaign which saw him jump up and down from the Cleveland Gladiators franchise in the Arena Football League. Ford brings a defensive leadership and experience to the Steelhawks defensive front line.

Steelhawks Head Coach Chris Thompson shared in the days excitement. “This is a great day for the Steelhawks as we get to not only play in a brand new state of the art arena like the PPL Center, but also raise our 2014 National Conference Championship banner in it on opening night. I can’t wait for our awesome 9th man fan base, Steelhawks Junior Football League (SJFL), and Partners to share in this moment and new home for years to come. We have enjoyed so much success these last 3 years and this is another step forward in providing a great night of family entertainment in the Lehigh Valley. I can’t wait to see what the move to the PPL Center and 2015 season bring for the Steelhawks. All I know, is it is going to be rocking.”

Thank you to the entire Steelhawks Nation for supporting us throughout the years! Stay tuned to the Steelhawks facebook and website for more exciting announcements over the off-season! We are already looking forward to next season.

Keep checking for the latest news and events from the Steelhawks! For further information please call Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Clark at (610) 282-3100, or visit our website at http://www.LVSteelhawks.com for the latest Steelhawks news! 2015 Season Ticket packages will be on sale soon! Reserve your seat now by calling the Steelhawks office at 610-282-3100.

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@SteelhawksPIFL to Play @PPLCenter !

Our beloved Lehigh Valley Steelhawks announced this morning that they will be playing their 2015 PIFL Arena Football season in the new Allentown Arena!

More details as they come in…

GO HAWKS!

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Mid-Year Yawns

It’s that time of the year. Baseball just hit the All Star break and both the Pigs and Phillies are riding the basement of their respective divisions. Our beloved Steelhawks fought hard but lost their Championship game last night ending the this year’s arena football season. It’s hot outside. The memories of winter have officially faded away. Most are thinking of a vacation. Some are thinking of hockey in the near future.

I’m thinking about a new furnace and create excuses to avoid mowing the lawn…

Yawn.

Really, it’s a welcome break for us sports fans. This is pretty much the one week of the year where we willingly accept invites to picnics, parties and nights out without the pressure of missing a game. We’re not checking our phones to see away game scores. We’re not contemplating tailgating or rain delay strategies. We are burning through Netflix sports movies like a crazed junkie.

Maybe it’s time for a nap.

Sure, I could throw in some motivational words about Roller Derby at this point. I usually do. I’ve been trying to get you to come out to derby for years. Here’s a photo if you’re still not convinced.

Photo by our good friend Jim Rhoades

Photo by our good friend Jim Rhoades

Although that photo provides us with an entertaining illusion… it’s still a real fun time.

Next Lehigh Valley Rollergirl’s home bout is this Saturday, July 19th at 5:00pm in Schnecksville. I’m sure I’ll post more details later this week.

Until then… enjoy the day.

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SteelHawks Lose Championship, Look Forward to the Future

The Lehigh Valley SteelHawks couldn’t complete a magical road-run to the Championship, losing in Nashville last night 64-43 in the league’s final game.  They began the game a bit flat, at one time down 24-4.  Just like the whole season, though, they battled back and closed to within a touchdown several times.  The offense, though, just wasn’t made to come from behind by that much–and forced into that role ultimately made enough mistakes to prevent a come-from-behind victory.  The 12-2 Nashville Venom were the better team all season and certainly showed it yesterday.

But the SteelHawks competed.  QB Shane McSweeney played very well over the past few games as the SteelHawks made their run.  He was filling in for the suddenly-retired All-PIFL Adam Bednarik.  The Defense was lead by outstanding lineman Larry Ford and All-League DB/KR Dwayne Hollis.  They were a fun team to watch this past season, and we certainly wish them well as a franchise, going forward.

And the future certainly is bright–if a bit uncertain–for the established local professional football team.  It’s been a foregone conclusion that the team will move into the beautiful new arena in Allentown for next season.  However, as I understand, nothing is official yet.  To that end, I have some thoughts.

First, let’s take a look at the arena move, good and bad:

  1. Fans:  The arena may make checking out a game more palatable to a number of fans who may not have had the opportunity yet.  The antiquated Stabler Arena is no great place to visit, and not so comfortable for fans.  On the other hand, some established fans may not wish to battle the downtown traffic and parking which will be a problem for all events there–on some level.  While they may attract new fans, they will have to battle to keep some of the old ones, too.
  2. Additional Revenue:  Parking won’t be free downtown, we all know that.  And, the SteelHawks won’t get a piece of it–it’s Allentown’s.  But, I’d hope the ‘Hawks would get a piece of the concession game–including beer sales.  I’d also hope the SteelHawks could get a small corner of the Phantoms’ team store to sell merchandise–expanding to the concourse as needed on game days.  Additional revenue for the team may allow for some franchise stability, player recruitment and coaching, and promotion.  Better game day experience => More fans => More advertising => More revenue =>Better game day experience.  It will build on itself.  But, as I said, some things may be a little more difficult.  Parking, and perhaps higher rent, and the need for additional game-day staff and facility expenses (ie: new field).
  3. The Partnership with the Phantoms:  Phantoms management has already mentioned the possibility of one or two fellow-tenants for the PPL Arena.  Indoor soccer, indoor lacrosse, and minor league basketball have all been mentioned.  However, all of those leagues overlap with hockey quite a bit.  And, they all want the weekends for games.  It can be done, as it is in places like Syracuse and Rochester and Norfolk.  However, the PIFL schedule starts just as hockey is ending, and provides for additional arena event nights throughout the early summer.  The partnership is as close to perfect as you can get.  The SteelHawks play a maximum of one game per week which can easily be scheduled around trade shows and concerts and graduations and other arena events.

———-

A couple of background things:  I admit I was skeptical about indoor football.  I also admit that I was wrong.  The pace of the game and the quickness of the scoring make for a very exciting evening.  I also admit that I HATE Stabler Arena.  I don’t like the seating.  I don’t like the concessions.  I don’t like that I can’t enjoy a beer during the game.  It’s not comfortable.  It’s 1980’s technology.   Access and parking are about the only good things it has.

So, given the move is imminent, let me a few suggestions going forward.  If I was General Manager Mike Clark, here’s what I would do–or try to do–to get ready for next season in the Arena:

  1. Put a good team on the field:  The SteelHawks have done this already–fielding a competitive team the past couple seasons.  However, I think it’s even more important with the move.  A winning team will build buzz in the community.  Just like other minor-league teams, though, anyone really good will probably have the opportunity to move up either to the AFL (Arena Football League, above the PIFL) or even an NFL camp.  Depth is also a key–having some guys who can be called on to fill roster spots if needed.  Work hard on recruiting, and talent.
  2. Find good local talent, if possible:  If the local community recognizes names from previous High School Football games, they might be more likely to come out and check a game.  Adam was a particular example of this.  Reach out to former HS stars to see if they are interested in playing following their college careers.  Also, if these guys are local, it can be easier to get them on board if they are needed to fill the roster spot of a player who moves up or gets injured.
  3. Take advantage of the Arena features (“Sell Those Groups”):  The new arena will have more group areas, and luxury boxes and the like.  Selling groups is a key way to fill a stadium or arena.  Just ask the IronPigs–playoff games and exhibitions without groups in attendance are usually noticeably less-well supported.  Most luxury boxes will be owned, but some may be able to be rented out on a game-by-game basis.  There’s a group area near the field where the players enter which will be good to sell.  In addition, with the larger space, sections can be set aside for certain things:  Set aside a “family” section with no alcohol sales.  Set aside a peanut-free section.  Set aside a section of “cheap seats” for the Noise Nation. ;-)  Set aside sections for the other groups, especially the youth teams.
  4. Partner with local youth leagues:  I know they’ve tried to do this already somewhat, but it’s a great source of fans and groups.  Have youth exhibitions prior to the game and at half-time.  Let the youth leagues sell tickets as a fundraiser–football teams always need money. (Other minor league teams do this:  Sell a block of tickets to the team at a low “bulk” price.  They then re-sell them at a higher price and keep the profits for their club.  It’s a win-win.)  And, as long as you have that turf set up, if you can’t get youth football, give soccer clubs and lacrosse clubs a shot at the half-time exhibition, if there’s not another arena tenant willing to work with them.
  5. Promote at other arena events:  This may be difficult to negotiate, but even a little bit might go a long way.  Every Phantoms game and concert and trade show should have some information available to promote the team and the games.  Even if it’s just a small kiosk or some banners.  Anything you can do to let everyone know that you’re a tenant there, too.  You know, a championship banner in the rafters might look nice… :-)
  6. Sell that gear!  As I mentioned above, a small corner of the team store with a jersey, T-Shirt and hat for sale every day of the year, will help promote the team.   Even if you have to turn the profits over to the Phantoms as rent.  Additional quality items on sale game days, as well, of course.
  7. A new field:  I was watching an AFL game on TV the other day, and there they were gluing the field down between plays.  I guess it’s not just us.  A nice quality field will make the games more fun to watch and safer for the players.  Advertising is a necessity, of course, and a partnership with another “turf” tenant like soccer or lacrosse may be necessary.  Or, just charge them rent…  Or, get the Arena to buy the field, and then THEY can charge rent and you won’t have the overhead.  And for the love of all that’s good in sports:  PLEASE, no electric blue or red or yellow or black turf.  Please just green.  My retinas thank you.
  8. Create an event:  Here’s an idea.  The Phantoms and the City of Allentown should be on board for the buzz it will create:  Have a SteelHawks game the same day as a Phantoms game.  Hear me out, now:  Let’s pick a Sunday near the end of the Phantom’s season.  They’ll have a matinee at 1:30 or so.  Arena management has said that they like 24 hours to cover the ice for an alternate event, but that it can be done much quicker if need be, with additional man-power.  Have a SteelHawks game in the evening following the hockey matinee.  Keep folks downtown, and allow them to patronize the restaurants and hang out in the arena to watch the changeover, and all that.  You might have to get creative with the ticketing for that part.  An “event” like this will create buzz and a transition from hockey season to indoor football season.  If the City really wants to get on board, close some of the nearby streets and create a “fest”-type Spring atmosphere in late March or early April.
  9. Tap in to the Phantom’s ticket base:  This can be a little tricky as well.  However, the Phantoms have LOTS of season ticket holders.  Trust me, I saw them (more on that later).  The ability to market to these folks who are already accustomed to coming downtown to the arena should be explored.  Even if it’s only a tag on the end of an email, or one email promo per season, or whatever.  A discount for Phantoms season ticket holders would also be a way to tap in.  Advertise on the Phantom’s web site.  All that stuff.
  10. Keep the party going:  Some of the stuff the SteelHawks do is really cool, and I hope they continue.  The on-field meet and greet following the games, and the “after parties” that have been held–all cool.  And, they can be continued in downtown Allentown.  There will be plenty of venues for the after-parties–or just dinner–following games.
  11. Get the PIFL to do better with the schedule:  I understand there are difficulties with franchises coming and going, but let’s not have 5 away games in a row again.  Or 5 home games for that matter.  If need be, consider other nights for the games if the weekends get too difficult to schedule.  NFL plays on Thursday and Monday. High school football is on Friday.  All these nights could be used for games, as well as plenty of Saturday and Sunday afternoons when the kiddos can come out.  And don’t even get me started on the officials.  Please, PIFL, do better.
  12. Promote the parking:  I’ve already said this a ton of times about the Phantoms.  There are real concerns about parking and traffic downtown.  The SteelHawks will have the benefit of a whole season of hockey and concerts under their belt before the 2015 team takes the field.  Still, make parking and traffic maps VERY available both on the web site, via mailings, in advertising, and the like.  Don’t minimize it–make sure that folks who need help finding their way downtown to park will be able to.
  13. Make use of the technology:  The new arena will have state-of-the art video and sound capabilities.  Use them to their maximum potential for replays and promos and whatnot.  Look at the way IronPigs games have changed since their inaugural season in 2008:  no more small town “swing it like an iron pig.”  All big-town flash and energy.  It plays well here.  Use it.

—–

The indoor football is a fast-paced exciting game, played by outstanding and enthusiastic athletes.  It’s been successful in this area, and I look forward to it getting even better in the seasons to come.  Best wishes to the Clarks and the SteelHawks family as they move into a new era for the team–I hope.

See you at the arena,

@Kram209

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STEELHAWKS HEADED TO PIFL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!

Lehigh Valley Will Travel to Nashville for a Shot at the Title

Bethlehem, PA: The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (7-6) are headed to the PFIL championship for the first time in franchise history! They defeated the Trenton Freedom (8-5) 49-38 to claim the National Conference title on Saturday night. They will travel to Nashville who defeated the Columbus Lions 43-39 in the American Conference Final.

Tonight’s game was a defensive battle the entire time. The first half was back and forth; the score was tied three different times. Trenton was the first to put points on the board on the opening possession. The Steelhawks would waste no time in answering with a touchdown of their own when QB Shane McSweeny (16-24, 278 yards, 4tds, 30 yds rushing, 1 TD) found WR Troy Pascley (7 catches, 157 yards, 4 TDs) for a 40 yard touchdown completion; tying the game at seven. After having possession of the ball for almost four minutes, Trenton QB Warren Smith (24-41, 289 yds, 5tds) would find WR Maurice McDonald (4 catches, 68 yds, 2 td) for a touchdown to take the lead and an uno would extend that lead to eight. Lehigh Valley would be called on a holding penalty in their own endzone, resulting in a safety; and Trenton seemed to be building momentum. But it was short-lived. DB Leavander Jones (5 tackles, 2pbus) would catch Smith as he tried to escape the pocket forcing a turnover on downs and giving the Steelhawks the ball back as the first quarter came to a close.

The Steelhawks would begin their comeback in the second quarter. McSweeny would hit Pascley for another long touchdown catch early in the quarter to cut the Freedom’s lead to three. On Trenton’s next possession, LB Cory Darby (4.5 tackles, 1 int, 1 pbu) would level Smith when he tried a quarter back sneak into the endzone on fourth and one giving the Steelhawks the ball back. K Michael Barnard would hit a 23 yard field goal on the following possession to tie the game at 17. Lehigh Valley then took the lead when DB Dwayne Hollis (6.5 tackles, 1 int, 1 td) grabbed his 10th interception on the year (breaking the franchise’s all-time interception record) and returned it for a touchdown. Trenton would drive the length of the field and tie the game up at 24; and at halftime that’s where the game stood.

Both teams went scoreless in the third quarter as the defenses’ battled it out. Teams would trade long field goal attempts, but neither could connect. The action would pick back up in fourth however. The McSweeny and Pascley due struck again to give the Steelhawks the lead that they wouldn’t look back from. A Barnard uno put Lehigh Valley up by eight. The Steelhawks’ defense would make another big play when DL Michael Woodhouse (3 tackles, 1tfl) tipped the ball at the line and Darby came up with his first interception of the year. Lehigh Valley would capitalize on the turnover and put three points on the board off the leg of Barnard. With 9:26 left on the clock the Steelhawks led, 35-24. Trenton would keep fighting, Smith and McDonald would combine for another Freedom touchdown, but their two point conversion attempt was unsuccessful. As the clock ran down, McSweeny would use his athletic ability on the ground and scrap his way into the endzone from two yards out giving the Steelhawks a more comfortable lead, 42-30. With 1:23 left in the game, Trenton would find the endzone again when Smith lofted a pass to Landis Williams. Williams would be on the receiving end of the two point conversion, cutting the Steelhawks lead back to four. With 42 seconds left, McSweeny would find Pascley for his fourth touchdown of the game, this one a 45 yard bomb that would seal the deal for the Steelhawks. The game would end with the final score of: Steelhawks 49, Freedom 38.

The PIFL championship will be next weekend inside the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, July 12th at 8pm EST. The Steelhawks will be posting updates on Facebook and Twitter for all fans back in the Valley. Live streaming of the game will be announced later this week.

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