'08 Force schedule released

The Georgia Force will return to the Arena at Gwinnett Center with a bang - a nationally televised season opener - the Arena Football League franchise announced when it released its 2008 schedule Thursday.

The Force - the AFL's defending National Conference Southern Division champions - will open its first season back in Gwinnett after playing the last three seasons at Philips Arena in Atlanta on March 1 by taking on the defending National

Conference Eastern champion Dallas Desperados. The game will be televised on ABC, with kickoff set for 1 p.m.

The Force (14-2) and Desperados (15-1) had the two best regular-season records in the AFL last season, with Georgia handing Dallas its only regular-season loss.

It will be the first of eight home games for the Force at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Georgia has the AFL's top home record over the past three seasons at 20-4.

Among the other highlights of the Force's home schedule are:

' Two other televised games, with the Force playing host to the Philadelphia Soul on May 12 and traveling to meet the New Orleans VooDoo on May 26. Both games kick off at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

' A rematch with the Columbus Destroyers, the team that eliminated the Force in last season's National Conference championship game. The Force travel to Columbus, Ohio, for that game June 7.

' Games against the last two Arena Bowl champions in the final two weeks of the regular season, with the Chicago Rush visiting the Arena at Gwinnett Center on June 14 and the Force traveling out west to take on the San Jose SaberCats a week later on June 21.

SideBar: Georgia Force Schedule

All home games at the Arena at Gwinnett Center

March 1 - Dallas, 1 p.m.*

March 7 - at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.

March 15 - Los Angeles, 7 p.m.

March 22 - at Orlando, 7:30 p.m.

March 29 - at Utah, 9 p.m.

April 4 - Kansas City, 7:30 p.m.

April 19 - Orlando, 7 p.m.

April 25 - at Arizona, 10 p.m.

May 3 - New Orleans, 7 p.m.

May 12 - Philadelphia, 8 p.m.**

May 18 - at New York, 3 p.m.

May 26 - at New Orleans, 8 p.m.**

May 31 - Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.

June 7 - at Columbus, 7 p.m.

June 14 - Chicago, 7 p.m.

June 21 - at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

* - Game televised on ABC

** - Game televised on ESPN2