Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Storm

Tampa Bay Storm prepares for rare Monday game

TAMPA — Are you ready for some football?

The NFL's Monday Night Football doesn't get rolling until Sept. 10, but the Storm hosts a rare Arena League version tonight when it faces Kansas City at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

When the NFL Network picked up the league television contract three years ago, one game per season was designated for a Monday night due to the NFL draft weekend and the network's coverage of it. The Storm last played a Monday game May 5, 2008.

"We're all creatures of habit, so we like to keep the same schedule as much as possible," said Storm coach Dave Ewart, whose team primarily plays on Friday and Saturday. "This just makes it a longer week for us."

Ewart gave his players an extra day off last week but also worked in an extra day of practice. The Storm (3-3) hasn't played since April 20, when it lost 83-48 to Philadelphia, the league's top team at 6-1.

"I think the extra day of practice was good because we have so many young guys. The more they play (the indoor game), the better they get," Ewart said. "We worked five days on and two off on the weekend, just like a regular job."

The 83 points given up to Philadelphia were the most in team history.

"That game was over that night, and we started game planning for Kansas City the next day," Ewart said. "We left that all (in Philadelphia). That's a very good football team."

Kansas City, conversely, has not been good. At 0-5, the Command is the lone winless team in the league and has scored a league-low 170 points, 97 fewer than the next-closest team.

"They're a young team, like us, and have made some mistakes, like us," Ewart said. "But they should have beaten San Jose (a 49-35 loss on April 21). If we don't play our best, we're going to be in trouble."

Though the game is being played on an atypical day, Storm media relations director Jim Robinson said ticket sales have not been affected. The Storm drew a league-high 16,054 for its home opener and more than 8,000 for the next two games at the Times Forum.

"Sales (for tonight) have been on par, except for the first game," he said.

Notes: The Storm will honor former players Sylvester Bembery, Stevie Thomas and George LaFrance for their recent inductions into the Arena Football Hall of Fame. … The Storm will retire Lawrence Samuels' number, and the first 5,000 fans will receive a poster of him. … Julianna Zobrist, wife of the Rays' Ben Zobrist, will sing the national anthem.