ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Albany Empire took home the big trophy on Saturday. Fans were excited to cheer on their team and watch the National Arena League Championship game at the Times Union Center.
There was a lot of excitement from the stands and also from the turf. “Very excited…lots of energy going into this game,” says Albany Empire fan Kevin Keegan.“ It’s my first championship game, I am excited. The team prepared well and we’re ready,” says Albany Empire’s Varmah Sonie.
Albany Empire’s Brandon Sesay has been preparing for this special night from the very start. This isn’t Sesay’s first championship. “It has been a long time coming. I am just blessed to be able to come here with this group of guys and have a ball today,” says Sesay.
“It has been a long road. Ever since COVID started, it took a short time to get this back together…take the team and finish it up, and to catch the championship tonight will be incredible,” says Albany Empire Owner Mike Kwarta.
Fans are smiling behind the masks. All spectators are required to wear a mask while inside the TU arena. “It’s not our requirement, it’s Albany County’s Health Department requirement and I don’t fault them, they’re doing what they feel like is right to keep the public safe,” says Bob Belber, Times Union General Manager.
Since the arena football season kicked off, the Times Union Center had to continue following the changing local and state COVID-19 guidelines. Regardless of vaccination proof, all fans were required to mask up as the delta variant is on the rise.
Belber says many fans are complying with the mask requirement. “At the end of the day, kids and parents will know that they can come in that everybody has to have a mask on and be in a safe environment,” he says.
During the game, ushers and security reminded fans to mask up, and gave out masks to those who did’t have one. “If it keeps other people safe and it keeps me safe, then I am fine with it,” says Albany Empire fan Carson Hearst.
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