ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Arena football is back in the Capital Region. The Albany Empire takes the field for the first week of training camp since a year hiatus during the pandemic and cancelation of the Arena Football League. Under new management and a new league, they will look to make a statement as they get ready for the 2021 season.

Following a year hiatus that included the cancellation of the Arena Football League in 2019, the Albany Empire returns as a member of a new league, the National Arena League.

“It’s so good to get back on turf”, says new head coach Tom Menas. “It’s been so long and I’m excited about it, the guys are excited about it, and we are ready to work”

Head Coach Tom Menas makes his return to the field this year at the helm of the Empire. Bringing with him a new attitude to the team as well as the return of a few key players including 2019 arena bowl champion quarterback Tommy Grady.

“It’s cool,” says Tommy Grady. “There was still confetti on the field when they unrolled it so that was cool, but all these guys are new to the team, a couple guys that are veterans that have been around the league, but it is good to kind of get to know everybody and kind of teach them the game.”

The Empire hit the turf this week for the first time during the 2021 season welcoming many new players as they got their first repetitions with the team on their way to finding a winning formula.

“It feels good to be back out here after the pandemic and everything, and canceling the season last year”, says new wide receiver Darius Slayton. “It feels good to get a call and come back and play football. We are here now so we are going to try and bring back another championship to Albany.”

Fans will be allowed in attendance this season at the Times Union Center as they work alongside Covid guidelines bringing the excitement and high scoring event that is arena football back to the capital region.