For the past five years, the Ontario Reign have dominated opponents as the ECHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets and the 2012 Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings. Formerly the Texas Wildcatters, and before that, the Huntington Blizzard, the Reign rose to existence in 2008. And, rather than naming the team the old-fashioned way of letting a raccoon pick random letters from a bag of Scrabble pieces, the newly spawned organization turned to its fans with a name-the-team contest. That contest kicked off what has been a thriving relationship between the Reign and Ontario hockey fans. In fact, the Reign led the ECHL in attendance during their first three seasons. In 2012 and 2013, the team rewarded its loyal fans with back-to-back Pacific Division championships, and in coming seasons, hopes to be a perennial contender for the Kelly Cup.
Surrounded by roaring crowds of hoops fanatics, the Erie BayHawks shoot for glory during thrilling basketball matches as the official minor-league team of the New York Knicks in the NBA Development League. Head coach Gene Cross manages a roster of young and veteran talent that recently included overnight sensation Jeremy Lin. Buzzers announce the beginning of four quarters' worth of dazzling slam dunks, three-point shots, and Final Jeopardy lightning rounds as players hone their talents in preparation for upcoming games and potential rise to the NBA ranks.
Cheer on the first-place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the New York Yankees' Triple-A affiliate and mahjong partners, as they seek to trounce their in-state rivals, the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs. The Yankees get their run support from catcher Jesus Montero, currently batting .327, and incisive pitching from right-hander David Phelps—whose fastball has been known to punch small holes into the space-time continuum—helping him maintain a miniscule 3.19 ERA through 42 innings pitched. Ballgame attendees wash down their hot dog with a 22-ounce Pepsi product (a $6 value) while sporting a new, limited-edition SWBY Yankees T-shirt (an $11 value) and cap (an $18 value) with which to catch foul balls or small meteors from 300-level seats (a $10 value). Stick around after the last out has been recorded for a dazzling postgame display of fireworks.
In 2009, the Cleveland City Stars folded, leaving the Sixth City without a soccer franchise to call its own. Two years later, the group of local soccer supporters known as the 6th City Syndicate finally found a new team to cheer for as AFC Cleveland (its initials: A Fans' Club) joined the National Premier Soccer League, finally bringing the beloved sport back to Cleveland's glacially-formed soccer stadiums. Bolstered by the Syndicate's support, the team surged into the NPSL spotlight in its very first season, winning the first-ever Rust Belt Derby and upsetting the Erie Admirals to claim the Great Lakes Conference championship.
The defending Mid-American Conference champion Kent State Golden Flashes men’s basketball squadron looks to continue their run of success during 2010–2011’s challenging slate of home games. Two upper reserved seats at an upcoming home game afford views of the whole court as head coach Geno Ford—last year’s MAC coach of the year—leads a team with NCAA tournament ambitions. High-flying forward Justin Greene and speedy guard Rod Sherman will lead the Golden Flashes as they take on teams such as the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, the South Florida Bulls and their deadly 3-point shooting centaur directed by former coach Stan Heath, and the Youngstown State Penguins. Don a poodle skirt and Cold War fears for the Dec. 2 game’s ’50s theme night, or simply immerse yourself in the school songs, boisterous student section, and monster jams of Kent State basketball.
The NBA Development League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Canton Charge regale hoops fans with basketball savvy from a roster stacked with talent looking to play their way into the NBA. Donning the same yellow-and-red color scheme of their affiliate squad, the Charge compete in the East Division of the NBA D-League. The team plays in the Canton Civic Center, where sounds of cheering fans and squeaking shoes echo off of rafters and occasionally create a high-pitched rhythm that the Charge Girls, the team's dance squad, can groove to.