By Pamela A. Keene
The field is one-fourth the size of an NFL football field, but the fast action of arena football makes for an exciting game. And folks around Lake Lanier and Northeast Georgia will have a chance to cheer for their very own Atlanta Havoc arena team when it takes to the new Buford Arena in March 2018. The St. Patrick’s Day season opener on against the Florida Tarpons includes a post-play concert by The LACS country band.
“The field is the same size as an ice hockey rink and teams play 8-on-8 in this high-energy sport,” said Tim Viens, owner of the Havoc. “The scores are typically double those of college and NFL games. It’s a fast-paced, high-flying, high-scoring family oriented sport.”
As a promoter and team owner, Viens plans to make each home game a family experience with all-day tailgating, bouncy houses and kids’ activities, vendors and food. “And it’s much more affordable than taking the family to a movie,” he said. “Our premium seating is $20, and people can save 20 percent by purchasing the full season.”
The team has named Gerald “Boo” Mitchell head coach. A graduate of Lowndes County High School in Valdosta, Mitchell played for Vanderbilt University and earned a number of SEC recognitions and honors. A shoulder injury ended his pro career with the Seattle Seahawks. He currently is assistant coach at a nearby high school.
For the past 17 years he has coached high school and youth football and has won the Gwinnett County Touchdown Club Assistant Coach of the Year Award, won a State Championship Ring as an assistant coach at Peachtree Ridge High School, and won two National Championship rings with the Northeast Georgia Team as the offensive coordinator for the 8th Grade FBU (Football University) National Tournament.
In addition to coaching both youth and high school players, “Coach Boo” has also served as head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Explosion and the Atlanta Phoenix of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), and as a defensive back coach and defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Predators of the NFL Developmental League. As a professional performance trainer, “Coach Boo” has worked with aspiring professional football players and current NFL, CFL and arena players on various teams, and he has assisted with various CFL teams in putting on try-outs throughout the metro-Atlanta area.
The team is currently recruiting players from top colleges, plus the NFL and Canadian Football League. “We’re also looking at players hoping to break into professional ball, those on the cusp, or those who may have been cut by the pros,” Viens said.
The team, part of the American Arena League, plays a 12-game season; seven are home games. The season runs from mid-March to mid-June.
Viens plans to book more than a half-dozen concerts into the Buford Arena in 2018 as well. For more information about the Atlanta Havoc or concerts at the Buford Area, visit www.atlantahavoc.com.