The Tampa Bay Storm met up with their longtime rival the Orlando Predators last week for a pre-season warm up game with a little over 6,000 in attendance, coming out victorious with a score of 40-16.
Dietz saw a decent amount of playing time, but Drew Weatherford seemed to be the one who was out to prove himself. A Land O' Lakes High alum and former FSU QB, he holds a lot of promise as a potential backup for Dietz, who had a minor injury a few days before this first matchup.
While a great outing and a fun game, this game showed me a lot as a longtime Storm fan, things I had been avoiding and outright denying–a free game complete with $2 beer and food wasn't enough to bring out a real fanbase. The official number on this game was 6,169–a far cry from the attendance needed to keep this team and league afloat.
As I am interested in keeping the Storm and AFL (now, AF1) alive, I'd like to offer a few tips to the management and new ownership:
1) Find an effective way to market your seats.
With season tickets starting at $50 for eight home games coupled with the fast-paced, fan oriented feel throughout the league, this is the cheapest and most family-friendly athletic ticket in town–filling seats shouldn't be very hard. Still, with free seats, only 6,169 people came to a free game.
2) Build an OL that can defend the quarterback, no matter who the quarterback is.
It seemed that the OL entered Swiss cheese mode when Drew Weatherford was in. While this may be poor decisions on the part of Weatherford, the protection seemed to lack in comparing Weatherford vs. Dietz.
While I'm not a Weatherford fan, I think we should give the kid a fair shake. I hope this idea is horribly wrong and that Weatherford just needs more time to adjust to arena play.
3) Let's remember what builds and retains a fanbase.
Tampa Bay lacks big-name players. We had some greats in the recent past, namely John Kaleo, Shane Stafford, and T.T. Toliver.
While Kaleo has retired, Stafford and Toliver BOTH went to our No. 1 rival, the Predators. Stafford–released as one of the more sought-after players in the AFL, and Toliver–released in a cloud of controversy about the way players were treated, both to our competition. Three names that the Storm could've been built around, two of which are now building a following for our rival.
That said, Storm, let's be friends again. Yes, I forgive you for going AWOL for a year and five months, and I hope we can rebuild our friendship this season and build a winning franchise.
I'm beyond stoked that Marcum is back and Dietz is at the helm on the offensive side. It's going to take a lot of work to get there and I hope my ideas help, even in the slightest.
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