BILLINGS, Mont. -- It took a heroic effort, but the Billings Outlaws have a place to play today against the Tri-Cities Fever.
Just one week after a tornado ripped through the RimRock Auto Arena at PetraPark -- devastating the place -- the Outlaws (12-2) got their $5 million practice facility, the Billings SportsPlex, game-ready for today's scheduled 2 p.m. Indoor Football League playoff contest with the Fever.
"I'm very impressed with my staff," said Billings general manager Adam Steadman. "This was supposed to be a much simpler week, getting ready for the playoffs. We all look like the walking dead. But it's an amazing thing. Six days ago, this wasn't a thought."
It was less than a day after the Fever (7-7) lost 68-40 to the Outlaws in the regular-season finale June 19 at MetraPark when the tornado hit.
"If this were to hit 24 hours earlier, it would have been horrible," Steadman said. "We would have lost people."
Fever coach Adam Shackleford said the SportsPlex facility will be interesting.
"It's got nice walls, but I'm a little concerned about the ceiling," he said. "We can manage the kickoffs, but I'm more concerned about a long field-goal attempt. It could affect a decision at the end of the game."
The bad news for the Fever is that the SportsPlex has been the Outlaws' practice facility all year long. So they're used to it.
"It really is a nice facility," Steadman said. "The turf is extremely nice, and it's just an exceptional field. It's gonna be good for both sides."
Shackleford said his team is ready, concentrating on the task at hand.
"Everything that goes on over there is out of our control," he said. "Their job is to put a game on and get ready. We're glad everybody is OK. But our week hasn't changed. We've practiced hard for this. Our week hasn't been affected."
Fever wide receiver Thyron Lewis agrees.
"We're very confident," Lewis said. "We're ready to play. It hasn't been where they flat out have beaten us this year. We've kept fighting."
NOTES: The game will be televised at Kimo's, and KONA 610 AM will start its pre-game show at 1:45 p.m. Steadman said the computer and coder that is used for the closed-circuit television setup is about the only thing the tornado didn't destroy. So he's confident about the television broadcast. ... The City of Billings has cleared the facility to seat and stand 1,500 people. "But 1,100 or 1,200 is closer to the truth," said Steadman. There will be a large tent outside with closed-circuit TV sets. ... Billings has won all three matchups this season. ... The Fever is expected to have DB Montavis Pitts, who has been banged up, ready to play today. RB Antoine Rutherford (knee) is still sidelined. But Shackleford hinted that if the Fever were to win today, Rutherford might be ready to go next week.
Season numbers: Billings quarterback Chris Dixon ranks first in the IFL with 63 touchdown passes. He's also seventh with 543 yards rushing, and eighth with 2,040 passing yards. ... Billings kicker Garret Palmer ranks first with 78 extra-point kicks. ... Outlaws linebacker Kelly Rouse is third in the IFL with 122 total tackles. ... Teammate Mike Bazemore ranks fourth with 9.5 sacks. ... Fever wide receiver Thyron Lewis ranks fifth with 25 touchdown catches, and seventh in overall TDs with the 25. ... Outlaws return man Timothy Brown ranks sixth with 722 kickoff return yards, and is 10th with 1,180 all-pupose yards. ... Billings receiver James Walton ranks sixth with 22 TD catches, and is 10th with 730 receiving yards. ... Fever kicker Brett Jaekle ranks seventh with 56 extra-point kicks. ... Fever wide receiver Brandon Copeland ranks 10th in the IFL with 17 touchdown receptions.
Saturday's playoff games
-- Arkansas 44, Corpus Christi 29: In Little Rock, Eric Ware tossed two touchdown passes and ran for another in the second half as the Diamonds defeated the Hammerheads.
Arkansas, which trailed 21-14 at intermission, outscored Corpus Christi 30-8 in the second half.
-- Chicago 46, Green Bay 39: Sam Smith's 11-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1 second remaining gave the visiting Slaughter and upset victory over the Blizzard.
Tavares Woodley passed for 217 yards and four TDs, while Reggie Gray caught six passes for 114 yards and three TDs.
-- Sioux Falls 42, Omaha 23: The host Storm, leading 7-6 at the half, blew the game open in the second half, thanks to three returns for touchdowns.
Dusty Hovorka had a 13-yard fumble return; James Terry returned a field goal 47 yards; and Brian McIntire returned an interception 52 yards.
-- Wichita 61, Bloomington 48: Quarterback Dixie Wooten's 7-yard TD run in the third quarter gave the host Wild the lead for good.
Wooten scored on four TD runs, while teammate Darius Fudge rushed for 86 yards and three TDs.