Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and Duke City Gladiators players flank, starting fourth from left in the front, chamber President and CEO Jerry Schalow, Gladiators Director of Public Affairs Matt Avila and Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull during the ribbon-cutting Tuesday at the Rio Rancho Events Center to celebrate Gladiators action there. Argen Marie Duncan photo.

Champion indoor football team Duke City Gladiators is set to play at least three games in Rio Rancho this season.
Players practice at Rio Rancho Events Center, and their home opener against the Tucson Sugar Skulls is there May 30. A ribbon-cutting Tuesday celebrated the Gladiators’ residency at the events center.
“We’ve gotten COVID settling down now, so we can get back to business, back to playing games, back to the events we’re so familiar with at this events center,” said Mayor Gregg Hull at the ribbon-cutting.
He said the Gladiators won league championships the past two seasons and he wants to see them win a third in Rio Rancho.
Wide receiver Jared Elmore said the team looks forward to investing in Rio Rancho, Albuquerque and New Mexico. The Gladiators need 3,200 people at their games, he continued.
“You guys are a big advantage for us, especially with teams coming in,” Elmore said.
Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Schalow said the Gladiators are a “best-in-class franchise” and games are fun, with a lot of scoring.
Gladiators Director of Community Outreach Mercy López-Acosta said the team’s usual home, Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, is being used as a COVID vaccination site. So, she said, the Gladiators came to Rio Rancho because they couldn’t delay their season any longer and Rio Rancho has a nice facility.
This season, the Gladiators’ first in the Indoor Football League, the team is scheduled to play seven home games.
Director of Public Affairs Matt Avila said they’ll play three home games in Rio Rancho. Then, if Tingley has opened for games, they’ll return to that facility to honor their Albuquerque sponsors.
If Tingley still isn’t available, the Gladiators will keep playing in Rio Rancho.
“Thank you for open arms,” Avila said at the ribbon-cutting.
The Gladiators’ 30-player roster includes former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nate Davis.
López-Acosta said indoor football is a different environment than outdoor football and played on a much smaller field.
“It’s very hard-hitting, fast action,” she said.
Gladiators tickets are available through Ticketmaster at the team website, Seating is limited due to COVID restrictions.