BLOOMINGTON - No place like home? The Bloomington Extreme will find out quickly in its inaugural season in the United Indoor Football League.
After opening March 25 against the Peoria Rough Riders at Peoria, the Extreme will play three straight games at the new U.S. Cellular Coliseum in downtown Bloomington, according to the UIF schedule released Wednesday.
The home opener is April 1 against the Fort Wayne Freedom, followed by home games April 8 against the Rockford Raptors and April 15 against the Evansville (Ind.) Bluecats.
"I hope there are 6,800 people in there for that first game," Extreme coach Ted Schmitz said. "I think the fans can be more of a factor in arena ball than in any other game I've seen because they're so close.
"When you get a lot of people in that close when they (opponents) have the ball and we're on defense, I think it makes a lot of difference."
Other home games are May 13 against Peoria, May 26 against the Lexington (Ky.) Horseman, June 10 against the Ohio Valley Greyhounds, June 17 against the Omaha (Neb.) Beef and July 8 against Lexington.
All home games will start at 7 p.m., said Melissa Ash, public relations director for Central Illinois Arena Management. For ticket information, contact the U.S. Cellular Coliseum office at (309) 434-2843.
Fourteen of the Extreme's 15 games will be on Saturday, with the exception the May 26 (Friday) home game against Lexington.
The Extreme's seven road games will be at Peoria, Ohio Valley in Wheeling, W.Va. (April 22), Rockford (May 6 and June 24), Omaha (May 20), Evansville (June 3) and defending champion Sioux Falls (July 1).
"We're thrilled with the schedule because we don't have many long road trips to make, and all but one of our games are on a Saturday, which is ideal for our players who have full-time jobs," Schmitz said.
Schmitz and assistant head coach Mike Murray are working on assembling a roster. The signings of quarterback Dusty Burk, receiver Dwayne Smith, fullback James Fuller and defensive end Chris Hummel were announced last week.
There will be tryouts Dec. 17 at Illinois Wesleyan's Shirk Center. Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m., with tryouts/testing from 9 a.m. to noon. There is a non-refundable $50 fee.
Participants must be 18 or older, and should wear T-shirts, shorts and basketball shoes.