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Billings Outlaws Arena Football League opener draws excitement from fans

Posted at 8:15 PM, Apr 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-27 22:39:22-04

BILLINGS — If the NFL Draft wasn't quite enough to scratch your football itch in late April, the Billings Outlaws opened their first Arena Football League campaign Saturday night at home against the Wichita Regulators.

“To me, football is year-round, 24/7 on my mind and in my brain, so I'm excited always," Outlaws fan Anthony Vanore said.

Vanore was one of a rowdy bunch of fans that made their way inside First Interstate Arena at MetraPark to get a glimpse of the action. But he has a little more than just the game on his mind when he’s at a game.

“It started with my father. Unfortunately, he passed away back in 2018, but what bonded me and him together was football," Vanore said. "He used football to teach me things about life, like 'keep your eye on the ball' and stuff that goes way deeper. Football is very important to me. It's a part of who I am personally."

The AFL has a storied history of its own dating back nearly 40 years, and even produced two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner. Though not directly connected to two previous incarnations of the Arena Football League, this version of the AFL consists of 16 teams in its debut season.

“With something like the AFL, I just want to see it survive," Vanore said. "Now we've got 16 teams all over the U.S. with fans just as passionate as we are."

The product on the field wasn’t too bad Saturday night, as the Outlaws ran to a 66-26 victory over the Wichita Regulators to open the season 1-0.