MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — On Saturday, a matchup months in the making took place at Toyota Field in Madison. Jacksonville State University (JSU) took on the University of North Alabama (UNA) in a football rivalry game.
Now for the uninitiated, Toyota Field is home to the Trash Pandas Minor League Baseball team. So hosting a football game at the venue may have seemed a little out of left field for some in the community.
It certainly was when the matchup was announced back in April.
However, the grounds crew at Toyota Field knocked it out of the park with the setup. In just a few short days, the crew transformed the baseball diamond into a 100-yard football field.
While there were two end zones, due to required safety protocols, all offensive drives during the game were played in one direction, towards the first base dugout.
On Monday, News 19 spoke with Joel Lamp, a convention sales manager for the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau about the turn out.
He said, “We felt really good about how everything turned out.”
The capacity of Toyota Field is around 7,000 seats. However, additional seating was added with chairs and a set of bleachers, bringing it to 10,000.
Joel Lamp said it was a packed house.
“We ended up with over 10,000 in attendance,” Lamp said. “When you factor in all the tickets sold, the player pass list, the bands, and everything, it was a great event, a full stadium from that standpoint.”
A full stadium of 10,000 people is great for the local economy. Lamp said the economic impact of it all was $1 million.
He said there were several reasons for hosting the unorthodox event at the stadium.
“We want to bring events that have an economic impact, that bring their fans into the event, but also create an additional quality of life measure,” he continued. “We were able to bring people in from out of town, we were able to put on a great event, and we were able to engage our community.”
While the event went well, Lamp said there were a few things that were a bit of a learning experience.
He stated it may be a little while before they host this sort of event at that particular venue, pointing to possibly hosting a football game at the new Joe Davis Stadium, next fall.
However, from a tourism standpoint, he’s happy with the turnout.
Lamp said the game is helping put Madison County on the map, nationwide.
Highlights and clips from the game made national sports shows, like ESPN College Gameday.
“There were some unique opportunities for us to say ‘Hey we’re live at Toyota Field’ and kind of help tell the world, and open the curtain a little bit, to show what’s going on here in Huntsville,” Lamp said.
If you’re wondering about the score of the game, JSU beat UNA 47 to 31.
As of Monday, a piece of heavy equipment could be seen already tearing up the newly laid turf, as the grounds crew prepares to transform the field back into a baseball diamond.