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Roller derby comes to Columbia County

Posted: January 12, 2014 - 12:07am  |  Updated: January 13, 2014 - 1:33pm
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Members of the Soul City Sirens roller derby team prectice for an upcoming bout. The team will be competing at the Columbia County Exhibition Center beginning Jan 18. Photo by Jim Blaylock
Members of the Soul City Sirens roller derby team prectice for an upcoming bout. The team will be competing at the Columbia County Exhibition Center beginning Jan 18. Photo by Jim Blaylock

 

The Soul City Sirens will be taking to the rink for their sixth season in a new arena on Saturday.

The area’s women’s roller derby team will begin their 2014 season in a bout at the Columbia County Exhibition Center, the team’s new home track for competitions.

“We’re real excited about it,” said former coach and team spokesman Jason Craig. “It’s going to be great.”

The exhibition center, which opened in August, will allow the team to use 15,600 square feet to set up a flat track for bouts at least four times through November.

Team and Columbia County officials finalized agreements in mid-December.

“We’re absolutely thrilled they chose us to be their new location,” said Calie Cook, the county marketing manager. “I’m very excited.”

Craig said the team will continue to practice at Red Wing Rollerway three times a week and continue a great working relationship with those at the Augusta roller rink. The team called Red Wing home since 2009.

But the team outgrew the rink and the rink’s schedule only allowed Sunday bouts.

“With the growth of our sport, it’s getting harder and harder to get teams (to travel) here on Sundays,” Craig said.

He’s also hoping the Saturday bouts will attract more spectators, especially those who have never seen roller derby before. The new location allows for more spectators and seating will be provided, as opposed to Red Wing.

A typical bouts attracts an average 300-500 people and as many as 750 people have crowded Red Wing for a single bout.

But Craig assures roller derby fans that they’ll still be close to the derby.

“You’ll still be able to get right up in the action,” Craig said.

The exhibition center provides much more room, 450 flat parking spaces and turnstiles as well as concessions.

“It’s a huge step up,” Craig said. “We’re a little bit nervous, but we’re excited about it. ... It’s more the next level type of stuff.”

While Craig said the team is amped up for their new home, Cook said she’s excited about the possibilities for the exhibition center. It’s typical to expect trade shows and the like at such a facility, but Cook said she’s gotten interest from people wanting to host jiu-jitsu tournaments.

“I want to see more stuff like this,” Cook said, adding she’d like to see fencing and maybe even tennis and racquetball events at the exhibition center in addition to more traditional events. “There’s so many different possibilities that people haven’t looked at.”

Tickets for Soul City Sirens bouts are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Children under 12 get in free.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and the bout starts at 6 p.m.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit http://soulcitysirens.com/.

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