Empire excited to get back on turf in training camp

Local Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10.COM) — The Albany Empire’s back on the turf at the Times Union Center. The team kicked off training camp on May 8 with three weeks to come together, get in shape, and be ready to compete.

“It’s so good to get back on turf,” said 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.”

The Empire returns to downtown Albany after a year’s hiatus, under new leadership, and in a new league. Head Coach Tom Menas is at the helm and compiled a roster mixed with veterans like quarterback Tommy Grady, and newbies to indoor football.

“It’s cool, the first thing is there was still confetti on the field when they unrolled it so that was cool,” said Grady, who led the Empire to the 2019 ArenaBowl championship, “but all these guys are new to the team. A couple guys 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.”

One of the veterans Grady is building a connection with is wide receiver Darius Prince, who’s considered one of the top wideouts in arena football. He, like Grady, came from the Arena Football League, which folded after the 2019 season. Both say they’re refreshed and ready to go after the prolonged absence.

“It feels good to be back out here after the pandemic and everything, canceling the season last year,” said Prince. “It’s feels 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.”

The Empire open the the season at home May 29. A limited capacity crowd will be allowed to attend games in the Times Union Center, which drew more than 10 thousand fans per game in 2019.

“Selling tickets is a minefield right now,” said Menas referring to complications within the pandemic. “We’re navigating through it, and we’re excited when it opens up even greater. We can’t wait to have this place sold out and loud, that’s what we’re counting on.”

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