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Rivalry college football game to be played at Trash Pandas’ stadium

An intra-state college football rivalry just got a unique twist.

The University of North Alabama will play Jacksonville State University next season not in Florence and not in Jacksonville. Instead, the game will be played in Madison at Toyota Field – the home of the minor league baseball Rocket City Trash Pandas.

Madison and the Trash Pandas announced Monday the football game Monday will take place Oct. 15 at 6 pm The game was originally scheduled to be played at Braly Stadium in Florence.

It will be the first college football game to be played at the $46 million facility located about 10 miles west of downtown Huntsville. The city of Madison touted the stadium as a multi-use venue and not strictly a facility for minor league baseball and the football game is perhaps the most dramatic demonstration of the facility’s versatility.

“When we built Toyota Field, the vision for the venue was always to serve as a multi-use space for many different events in the city of Madison,” Mayor Paul Finley said in a statement. “We are thrilled to add this huge college rivalry game as our first football endeavor. Thanks to our partners at UNA, the Trash Pandas, and the Convention & Visitors Bureau, we are proud to make this vision a reality for what will be an exciting event. Having an event like this will create a tremendous economic impact for our city and showcase our crown jewel facility.”

The stadium will be reconfigured to accommodate the football game.

“We are excited to bring the tradition and pageantry of UNA football to Toyota Field this fall,” UNA President Ken Kitts said in a statement. “The Madison-Huntsville market is key for us – not only because of our large alumni base, but because of the depth of outstanding students in the area who are potential UNA students. Hosting this game is a tremendous opportunity for us to expand our brand and embrace the next generation of UNA students.”

The Trash Pandas said about 10,000 people will be expected at the stadium that has a capacity for about 7,000 for baseball and the event will have an economic impact of about $1 million for the Madison area.

“In a state that has a deep passion for football, we are proud to lead the charge in bringing this game to fruition and the reimagining of Toyota Field as a football facility,” Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. “We look forward to maximizing the opportunity to bring visitors in for the weekend, but also to introduce people to our area through the ESPN+ broadcast to show why the Rocket City is such a special place.”

While the game won’t be a Trash Pandas game, it will be a Trash Pandas event and the team plans to create the fan-friendly atmosphere that’s found at the baseball games.

“Thanks to the special relationships forged over the last few months, we look forward to welcoming UNA to Toyota Field for a one-of-a-kind experience that we offer all of our fans every night during baseball season,” Garrett Fahrmann, general manager of the Rocket City Trash Pandas, said in a statement. “While this event has some unique characteristics to it, our focus is on keeping the same mindset we have for Trash Pandas games – to create a special fan experience that will want them to come back for another event at Toyota Field.”

MartinFed, a federal solutions company headquartered in Huntsville, specializing in cyber, IT, engineering, and training, will be the presenting sponsor of the game. Matthew Schmitz, chief growth officer for MartinFed, is a UNA alumnus.

Tickets for the game will go on sale to the public on July 18 through the Trash Pandas box office outlets. Season ticket holders of both UNA and the Trash Pandas will have presale opportunities in advance of the public sale. The Trash Pandas said there are also several premium options available – including on-field cabanas, dugout suite, sky deck seats and mini suites in the SportsMed Club area.

Updated today, April 25, 2022, at 2:04 pm with new information throughout.

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