As all sports fans are aware, many professional athletic organizations have been forced to take drastic measures to ensure the safety of their players. The NHL isolated in Canada and the NBA isolated at Disney World in Orlando. Although Disney may be “the happiest place on Earth,” many people are calling Pelham the happiest Alabama city south of Birmingham. And let’s just face it: bubbles work.
Why a bubble? With two games canceled in less than 48 hours and the season on the verge of collapse, radical strides must be made to save the Southern Professional Hockey League. Who knows more about what Alabama needs than business mogul, justice warrior, and hometown hero Alexander Shunnarah? Yes, that’s right. Alexander Shunnarah is more than a face on a billboard. He IS your attorney. And he has always been there for us in times of need. That’s why I am certain Mr. Alabama himself understands the importance of minor league hockey in the South and would agree that Pelham, Alabama, is the perfect location for the SPHL Bubble.
Why Pelham? Three things: Location, Hospitality, and Cuisine.
Out of the five teams competing for the SPHL President’s Cup this year (the Pensacola Ice Flyers, Macon Mayhem, Huntsville Havoc and Knoxville Ice Bears), it’s a no brainer that the Pelham Civic Complex would be the perfect host for the 2020-2021 season. No need to consult with a topographer. It is clear: all roads lead to Pelham.
Pelham is home to about a dozen hotels, so there is something for everyone. Whether it’s the Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, or the Quality Inn, you’ve got plenty of options. One of those being the Holiday Inn. And I don’t care what multimillionaire Vanderbilt heir Anderson Cooper says. At just $94 after taxes and fees, the Holiday Inn is quality lodging at an affordable rate. And you know what? It is that exact same “elitist” mentality that is currently destroying the Pensacola Ice Flyers organization. After starting off 3-0, the Ice Flyers are scrambling for answers as the Bulls have taken all the momentum into the new year. In 2021 alone, Hayden Lavigne made 40 saves in his professional debut on the road vs. the Macon Mayhem, leading the Bulls to a 3-2 victory in overtime. And the game after that, the Bulls added Josh Harris back to the roster only having to cut him after Thursday’s 5-2 blowout over Pensacola. (However, sources close to Harris have reported he will be back later this season.)
Lodging in Pelham is surprisingly affordable. What we do first is restructure the schedule eliminating the need for play in May. By reworking the schedule, Pelham can host the entire SPHL season in just 65 days. Each team gets 35 rooms. Each room is $94 after taxes and fees and for a few months’ stay, the total for lodging only comes out to roughly $1,000,000. But you know what is bigger than a dollar sign? A dream. And you can cancel a lot of things, but you can’t cancel the fighting spirit of a professional hockey player.
The players will eat nothing but the best in the Bubble. Pelham offers local favorites such as Sarris Cafe, Pelham Diner, and Italian restaurant Nino’s. And although Eli Gold is no longer involved with Nino’s, they sure do make a mean bowl of spaghetti. Between the pork chops at Pelham Diner, spaghetti at Nino’s and Sarris’s lemon pepper baked grouper, the players will be eating only the best and supporting small businesses at the same time.
The path ahead is clear. Your Birmingham Bulls are undefeated in 2021, and with proper protocols set in place, I am confident that this Birmingham Bulls team will win the 2020-2021 SPHL President’s Cup. Go Bulls. Kick Ice.