Billings Outlaws to host first-round playoff game at the Sports Plex

BILLINGS — Get ready for a party, Billings.

The Billings Outlaws (7-3) will host their first-round Champions Indoor Football league game on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. against the Wyoming Mustangs (3-7) at the Billings Sports Plex.

Admission will be free and the game is open to the public.

In fact, it will be much more than a game with bounce houses for the kids, food trucks, and places for the team’s sponsors to visit with the public. And, according to the team’s new owner, Steven Titus, even if fans of the game can’t get inside the Sports Plex to see the game, there will be live TV feeds around the facility both inside and outside.

“We are really excited for it to be a community gathering where there happens to be a football game going on at the same time,” Titus told The Billings Gazette and Monday.

The facility, which also was the place where the original Billings Outlaws won the Indoor Football League title in 2010 because the Metra was damaged by the Father’s Day tornado, was approved to host the playoff game by the CIF on Sunday Titus said.

“We’re working on finalizing sponsorships to the game to cover the cost,” Titus, introduced as Billings’ new team owner on Saturday at a press conference at the Sports Plex, said. “A lot of sponsors agree on the vision our team has for the Outlaws. We are fortunate to have them.”

Normally the first-year, expansion Outlaws play their home games at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark. However, Metra is hosting concerts on Saturday and Sunday and the facility isn’t available for an Outlaws game on those dates.

Titus said there would be extra security and portable toilets at the Sports Plex and team officials were working on where fans would park, as the Sports Plex parking lot would be used for the extra activities outside of the game. He said to follow the team’s website and Facebook page for details as more information becomes available.

The Outlaws defeated the Mustangs 47-29 on Saturday, June 4, at the Metra in both teams’ regular-season finale.

The Outlaws are the No. 3 seed in the CIF playoffs. Wyoming is the sixth seed. The other first-round game is No. 5 Southwest Kansas (5-5) at No. 4 Omaha (7-3) on Saturday.

No. 1 Sioux City (9-1) and No. 2 Salina (7-3) both have first-round byes and will host the winners of this weekend’s games the following week in the semifinals.

Both the Outlaws and Mustangs are owned by Titus.

“I remember I was very emotional when Wyoming clinched a playoff spot two weeks ago,” Titus said, noting the Outlaws had earned their playoff position before he became the team’s owner late last week. “I got very emotional. It was a roller-coaster ride all year.

“I think it will really set in next week when one of my teams will play Salina, Kansas, to go to the championship.”

Billings could possibly host the championship game, which would be at the Metra on June 25 Titus said if the winner of the Southwest Kansas vs. Omaha game upset the Bandits in the semifinals. In that scenario, Billings would need to beat Wyoming this week in the first round and then win at Salina to host the CIF championship game.

The Sports Plex has a scoreboard and the field is regulation size said, Titus. The turf is currently lined for soccer, but Titus said it wouldn’t be a problem to mark the surface for football.

“We have a little retrofitting to do,” Titus said. “A solid two hours of retrofitting will make it ready.”

The ceiling at the Sports Plex isn’t as high as at the Metra, but Titus said the height of the ceiling at the Sports Plex is greater than that at the CAM-PLEX in Gillette, Wyoming, where the Mustangs play.

“It’s definitely not as high as the Metra, but high enough the league will allow it,” Titus said. “Field goal kicking will have a new challenge.”

Titus gave thanks to the Sports Plex owner, Mike Parnell, and Stu Bertrand, the program director at the Sports Plex, for their help in making the game on Saturday come together. Parnell owned a previous version of the Outlaws.

“Without them, this game would be in Gillette,” Titus said. “There are no other venues in Billings that could host the game.”

Titus said that the Outlaws organization is working hard to make the first-round playoff game success and will do its best to please football fans and the team’s loyal supporters.

“We apologize to all of our season ticket holders and VIP suite holders for this inconvenience,” he said. “But there was never any doubt in my mind this game had to be in Billings and not in Gillette. We are working on creating a VIP hospitality suite on the top floor of the Sports Plex and allowing season ticket holders to enter early.”

When the old Outlaws topped Sioux Falls 43-34 for the IFL title in July of 2010, the victory was at a “jam-packed and rock-concert loud SportsPlex” as described in a Gazette article about the game. The Gazette reported there was a crowd of 2,500-plus in attendance.

Titus believes playing at the Sports Plex won’t be disadvantageous to the Outlaws, who practice at the facility. The Outlaws team offices are also at the Sports Plex.

“They spend more time on the Sports Plex field than the Metra field,” he said.

The Outlaws are working with the fire department on how many people will be allowed in the Sports Plex. Whatever the number, Titus is sure the game will be memorable.

“All hands are on deck to create a hell of a fan experience and one people will remember,” he said. “They will remember that football game in 2022 at the Sports Plex.”