SIOUX CITY | One of indoor football’s biggest rivalries will resume in 2018.
The Sioux Falls Storm has left the Indoor Football League for the Champions Indoor Football league for the upcoming season. It will reunite them with longtime I-29 rival Sioux City. The official announcement was made in a news conference Wednesday.
“For people that have been around the sport of indoor football since it started I think one of the greatest rivalries I have ever been part of, or the greatest rivalry, has always been Sioux City-Sioux Falls,” Bandits Coach Erv Strohbeen said. “We have had a lot of heated battles over the years and that rivalry is definitely going to be renewed.”
“It is a great rivalry and we are looking forward to it,” Bandits owner Bob Scott said. “We certainly played them enough and they have pretty much the same people they had when we played them before, so we are well aware of how they do things and they know how we do things.
“I think the majority of the fans feel good about it because they like that rivalry.”
Strohbeen knows just what it is like to play in the rivalry game having been an offensive lineman for the Bandits in several matchups with the Storm.
“It is like fighting with your twin brother,” he said. “I don’t have a twin brother but I can only imagine the battles they have. We have a very good mutual respect over the years with their ownership, players and coaches … but there is a competitive rivalry there.”
The two are no strangers playing 30 games from 2000-2010 with Sioux Falls holding the 22-8 edge. However, the games drew some of the largest crowds to the indoor game including the United Indoor Football championship game in 2005 that was played in Sioux City and drew 6,840 fans.
“The last huge game we played in Sioux City was in front of almost 7,000 fans, a sellout crowd,” Strohbeen said. “Biggest crowd in indoor history in Sioux City.”
The Bandits have won three league champions since 2010 while the Storm has claimed six titles in the IFL.
The move gives the Bandits another game in close proximity in a league that stretches all the way to Texas. In addition to Sioux Falls, Omaha and Bismarck, North Dakota also have teams in the CIF.
“That was one of the big drawbacks they had in the IFL is the teams were spread out throughout the geography of the United States so far,” Strohbeen said. “It is hard to run a business when you are traveling so far.”
League stability and the ability for fans to travel to games has often been keys to success for indoor football leagues.
Strohbeen knows the addition of the Storm to the league for next season could make it easier to convince some players to return and recruit others.
“I think you are definitely looking at a catalyst to keep people off the couch and in the weight room,” Strohbeen said. “I have already been receiving a few texts so we will see.”
The CIF will have 15 teams for 2018 with Wichita Falls, Texas also expected to join the league from the IFL.