SAGINAW (WJRT) -
(05/07/14) - The Dow Event Center has melted the ice from hockey season and is now decked out in playoff football mode.
"We're ready. We're ready. I wish Friday was tomorrow," said Rob Licht, Saginaw Sting co-owner.
That's when the Saginaw Sting face Erie in the opening round of the CIFL Playoffs.
"Championship or bust, and that's what we're trying to do," Licht said.
With college graduations, and other events happening, the Sting are doing whatever they can to draw a crowd - including free admission for anyone 18 and under.
"You look around. We've got 5,500 seats. We've been averaging over 3,000 in attendance. We'd love to pack this place," Licht said.
The team's ownership group is using the playoff game as an opportunity to re launch the Sting's anti-bullying campaign. Players are asking all students in attendance Friday night to sign a pledge banner. Last year, 400 kids jumped on board. Saturday, the Sting are aiming for 1,000.
"200,000 kids every single day skipping school or missing school or faking sick, just doing something to prevent themselves from being bullied at school. We want to put a stop to that," Licht said.
Licht is also looking at Friday night's bonus game as an additional opportunity to put money back into the community. This season alone, the Sting have already provided around $50,000 to several organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters
"We just helped to donate to the Saginaw Township Little League for baseball. We're helping out with Carrollton Parks and Rec," Licht said.
Ultimately, though, Friday night is about winning and advancing to the championship game. The Sting finished the season with nine wins and just one loss - but they'll go into the playoffs with a new head coach. A change was made late last week.
"We're good at overcoming adversary, and we're going to do it again Friday night," Licht said.
If the Sting win Friday night, they'll host the league championship game at the Dow on May 17.