Albany goes electric for the Empire


"The crowd is out here , everybody looks like they're having fun!"

While spring may not be here yet, arena football is.

"We're witnessing history the first ever game for Albany Empire."

And the outside chill didn't stop people from gathering outside the Times Union Center to celebrate Albany's brand new AFL team.

"This is the first time we've had a sold out game probably since the arena bowl back in 1999," said Bob Belber, general manager of the TU Center

For the first time in nearly 20 years, Albany is home to arena football - and with thousands of people coming out for the Albany Empire's first game of the season, downtown is feeling the love.

"We expect more than 12,000 people in the arena, that means good business for us since we're attached to the arena."

Lou Chicatelli owns the Johnny Rockets, Handcrafted restaurant - right in the center of the day's festivities.

"I think it can only help, it's been a long time since we've had a team with this much excitement behind it, I think anything to do to bring people downtown is a great idea."

And business owners even further down Pearl Street are looking forward to the people this season of football is bound to bring into the city.

"It just brings an excitement to downtown..."

Pearl Street Pub owner Chris Pratt hopes the AFL games will send more people through local business doors.

"That's the way it should be, that's what Albany is, it's an entertainment district and hopefully this is the catalyst to really kickstart something and get people to say hey there's a lot of good stuff going on."

And for those who couldn't get a ticket to the sold out game? No big deal - the brand new 15 by 70 foot screens outside the TU would work just fine to cheer on the Empire.

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