The spoils of winning continue to go to the Spokane Shadow.
The Shadow announced Monday the USISL picked Spokane for the Premier League Northwest Division tournament. The four-team event will be at Albi Stadium July 26-27.
It is the second straight year Spokane has held a four-team Premier League postseason tournament.
“We’re excited about finishing first,” Shadow owner Bobby Brett said. “I think the players deserve it (to be the host team) and we’re more than willing to host it and do whatever necessary to make it happen.
“It’s really good for our team. It gives us a definite home-field advantage,” he said of the tournament.
“For Albi Stadium, we want to get more events, and for our fans, that was two of our biggest crowds last year. Hopefully we can build on that.”
The Shadow leads the Northwest Division with a 13-2 record for 39 points. That’s the most for all 30 Premier League teams spread over six division nationwide.
The Shadow plays the No. 4 team at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, with the second- and third-place teams playing at 8. The winners play at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The champion then meets the winner of the Southwest Division in a one-game playoff for a spot in the four-team tournament for the Premier League championship. The one-game playoff is the first weekend in August at the site of the team with the best league record. Spokane has one league game remaining against the fifth-place Puget Sound Bigfoot July 12 at Albi Stadium. In the Southwest, the San Gabriel Valley Highlanders are 9-3 with four games remaining.
The format was the same, but the rewards were different for last year’s tournament in Spokane. The four-team playoff included teams from different divisions and the winner advanced to the national championship tournament. The San Francisco Bay Seals defeated Spokane 3-2 in the finals to win the “Battle for the Beach,” then went to Cocoa Beach, Fla., and finished second in the finals. More than 2,000 fans at tended the first night doubleheader and 1,600 went to the championship game.
“The most exciting thing for the players is the opportunity to be at home and take care of unfinished business,” said Jeff Robbins, director of business operations, who put the bid together. “Everything is going our way except the regular season games don’t mean anything. It’s going to be a one-game season. But all the games are at home.”
The Shadow is 7-0 against league foes and 8-1 overall at Albi. Last year the Shadow was 9-1 and 10-2 at home at Spokane Falls.
There had been some discussion about moving the division tournament around to give other fans a chance to watch, but with Spokane dominating the league that was a risky proposition.
“I think they’re giving extra consideration to the first-place team,” Brett said. “They’re going to get first crack at it … then you’re playing for something, win the league and have home-field advantage. For the long-term health of the league, the first-place team should have that opportunity.”
There are added financial considerations for the host team besides game-day operations.
“It’s certainly a risk. All it takes is some rain and it will be tough,” vice president Andy Billig said. “We have a real good shot of breaking even, so it makes good sense for us (to host). That may not be the case in the rest of the league. If we draw what we did last year, we’ll break even.”
Tournament passes for all three games are $12 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and youth under 18. Single day tickets are $8 and $6. Groups of 20 or more can get tickets for $5 each.
Tickets go on sale this morning through G&B; Select-A-Seat.
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