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Tampa Bay Storm sees same officials for every home game

Kevin Stine has been (and will be) the referee for every Storm home game during the regular season. To save money, the Arena League decided against sending officials to different cities.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Kevin Stine has been (and will be) the referee for every Storm home game during the regular season. To save money, the Arena League decided against sending officials to different cities.

Imagine that for each Rays home game, the same umpire called balls and strikes. Chances are it would prompt all kinds of conspiracy theories.

But that's how the Arena Football League works.

"I definitely didn't think it was an ideal situation coming into the season," Storm quarterback Brett Dietz said.

As part of the league's new, cost-efficient business model, officials no longer travel for games. Instead, each team has a set for home games. (The league hasn't decided if it will continue the practice in the playoffs.)

"I thought it was a bad idea," coach Tim Marcum said. "What little expense it amounted to have them travel was worth it to have things done right."

The fear was officials would become partial to their teams.

"The perception of the idea was bad," Marcum said. "It's impossible for (the referees) not to get to know the guys."

Through the season's first four weeks, the road teams were penalized 49 more times, or 12.3 per week. For the season, road teams have been penalized 810 times compared with 737 for home teams. In only three of the 14 weeks have the home teams been penalized more.

But that hasn't been true for the Storm. It has been penalized 12 more times in six home games and, overall, is the league's second-most penalized team (141) .

"We sure don't seem to get many calls no matter where we are," receiver Tyrone Timmons said.

On May 7 at Tampa Bay, Jacksonville benefited from one of the strangest calls of the season. Dietz overthrew his receiver, and replays showed the ball ricochetted off of a fan and into the hands of a Sharks defensive back. The referees conferred, but the play was ruled an interception. The Sharks scored on the ensuing possession and went on to win 46-43.

"There were some weird calls in the beginning of the season," Dietz said. "But just like teams, I think the referees have gotten much better throughout the season."

A week earlier at home, the Storm benefited from a controversial call. Down 62-61 late, Arizona went for a 2-point conversion. Despite its receiver being tackled by three defenders, no penalty was called.

"That was interesting," Dietz said.

Defensive back Erick McIntosh said he hasn't noticed much of a difference in calls at home.

"There has been some calls go for and against us at home," he said.

"But no matter what, we have to go out and play our game."

Tonight

Storm at Dallas

When/where: 8:45, American Airlines Center, Dallas

Radio: 1250-AM

Tampa Bay Storm sees same officials for every home game 07/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 8, 2010 8:50pm]
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