CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Titans have a new home.
Technically, it’s the home they were supposed to have all along, but nonetheless, the Titans will play their home games at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Cedar Rapids in the 2014 season and beyond.
The move was two years in the making, and one Titans’ General Manager Chris Kokalis said hopes boosts the franchise and the city.
“Myself and my business partners talked about wanting to have a positive impact on the Cedar Rapids and Corridor communities,” Kokalis said Thursday at a news conference announcing the anticipated move. “(The move) was not exactly the easiest decision, however we (the Titans’ management and the city of Cedar Rapids) looked at both the pros and the cons, and in the long run, for the longevity of our organization, felt this would be the place for us to be.”
The move comes on the heels of the Titans’ fans earning the organization the award for “Best Fan Base” by the Indoor Football League for 2013. Kokalis said the Titans have had 10 sellouts over the two years in the team has been in Cedar Rapids, with all the home games being played at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
With the move, the Titans are able to offer “1,500 additional seats” to an already budding fan base. Not only will there be more seats available, but those seats will be cheaper, too. The cheapest tickets will now be $8, down from $10 at the Ice Arena. In addition, Kokalis said, “all our season ticket holders will enjoy free parking,” with the move.
“One of the biggest things for us, in this decision, was the fact of we had shared the (Ice Arena) for the past two seasons with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders,” Kokalis said. “We weren’t really able to create our own home feeling (at the Ice Arena). We really will have the opportunity to not only recruit players with this beautiful facility and the benefits that it has to offer, but also customize it to make it feel a little more like home.”
Bringing the Titans to the U.S. Cellular Center also brings some variety to the complex, and adds a second “major sports” presence with the state volleyball tournament returning this year as well.
“You can’t just program an arena with just family events or just sports events or just concerts. You need everything,” said Gene Felling, VenuWorks’ executive director in Cedar Rapids. “With the addition of the Titans as our prime sports tenant … I think that there truly is something for everyone now at the U.S. Cellular Center.”
From a football standpoint, the Kokalis believes the move will help the on-field product. Not only will it help in recruiting — Kokalis said Coach Mark Stoute is already using the new venue as a recruiting tool — as he said, it will keep the fans in on the action like they were at the Ice Arena.
“We’re still going to have those tight quarters as we had before, with players going over the walls into fans’ laps,” Kokalis said. “From a recruiting standpoint, for Coach Stoute, it allows him, when he’s talking to players about coming to Cedar Rapids, to let them know we’re playing in a brand new facility, a first-class venue.”The U.S. Cellular Center will hold approximately 6,000 fans for football games, and the Titans will welcome fans onto the field following games starting in 2014.