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Will ULM finally have a true home-field advantage in 2018?

Monroe is not feared, and that’s something that needs to change.

Arkansas v Louisiana Monroe Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Malone Stadium, which has a capacity of 30,427, has been the home of the ULM Warhawks since the venue was built in 1978. As someone from Monroe who attends Warhawk games on Saturdays, I can tell you firsthand that this is the furthest thing from a roaring, terrifying home-field for any team coming into town.

On the average Saturday last season, ULM filled just 32.6% of the stadium’s seating, which was 130th in college football. That’s not exactly the kind of number that strikes fear into the heart of opponents the way it does when a team heads to Boone, NC to battle with Appalachian State. Monroe is not feared, and that’s something that needs to change.

As we near the start of the upcoming football season, the ULM fanbase is buzzing with excitement as this team looks to contend for a Sun Belt title and bowl contention in 2018. With the league’s top offense and a defense with several new faces in key spots, there are many reasons to expect a big, win-filled season in Monroe.

With a fairly tough schedule, especially on the road, the Warhawks don’t have a clearcut path to their 2018 aspirations. The Southern Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia State, Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, and Arkansas State games are all on the road this season. I don’t know about you, but in my eyes that’s a pretty daunting slate of road opponents.

Only five games will be hosted in Monroe this year, but with Troy, Georgia Southern, and ULL coming to town, ULM has a chance to pick up a few quality wins with home-field advantage on their side. The problem is, Malone Stadium hasn’t always provided much of an advantage.

I think 2018 is the year that all changes. I don’t expect it to happen right off the bat, but I do think that by the end of the season you will see a much higher attendance rate, as well as a louder, more intimidating crowd as conference opponents come to town. With a team that should take a huge step forward in the win column and put on an exciting show every week, fans and students in Monroe will have a can’t-miss show right in their own back yard.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this team will contend for a spot in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. They are far too experienced and talented to not put themselves in a spot to fight for a title. If the Warhawks can prove themselves early in the year and start packing out Malone Stadium, traveling to ULM may just become terrifying.