I have always enjoyed going to professional sports games. It almost doesn’t even matter what sport. When I lived outside of Chicago, I went to Cubs games, White Sox, Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, and even Chicago Wolves, Rockford Ice Hogs, and Kane County Cougars. Living in Arizona, I continued the trend having been to several Diamondbacks games, Suns games, and quite a few Coyotes games. I hadn’t been as much recently, though, because the tickets have gotten crazy expensive unless you want to sit where you’d have a better view on tv and who wants to pay $12 for a Coke and a hot dog? I found, though, one that is not only not as expensive, but also thoroughly fan friendly. I have fallen in love with MY Arizona Rattlers, part of the Arena Football League.
First, the cost. Tickets down front, center field are still rather expensive at $93.25 per seat for one upcoming game. One doesn’t have to move that far back, though, to bring that price down considerably. Staying center field, row 6 is $71.25, row 14 $61.25, and row 21 $49.25. Willing to move to a lower level corner where there are still great views? $32.25 to $10 per seat. Yes, $10 for lower level seats, not nose bleeds (if you can find $10 seats at all for the other sports). We all know, though, that going to a game isn’t just about the seats. We want soda, hot dogs, popcorn, etc. Well, our arena has that covered, too. For $2, one can get a “kid’s size” soda, hot dog, or popcorn. One does not have to be a kid to order them and while the soda is on the small size, the hot dog is the size of a regular Oscar Mayer you’d eat at home and the popcorn comes in a bucket about the size of a small popcorn in a theme park or movie theater. My husband usually gets 2 of the hot dogs to fill him up, but at $2 each, it’s still cheaper than most event venue food. At the last game, we got 2 hot dogs, a popcorn, and a large soda that we split for about $12.
Of course, no amount of money for tickets is worth it unless you like what you see and in arena football, there is plenty of action. Instead of a 100-yard field, the field is only 50 yards, which translates into lots of touchdowns. High scoring games are common. The last game we went to ended 55-35. Another recent game ended 68-30. In other words, there are plenty of chances to cheer for your team. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also no sidelines. While 14 rows back may seem far, it’s not, because row 1 is literally at the edge of the field. The only thing separating row 1 and the field of play is a waist-high padded board. Keep that in mind when buying tickets, though. Tackled players can and do end up in the laps of the front couple of rows and errantly-thrown footballs (that you get to keep if you catch one) often end up in the first few rows as well. Did I hear someone say “souvenir?”
Speaking of souvenirs, they often have giveaways. At the last game, we received a pair of Arizona Rattlers sunglasses on the way in and while walking around the arena (and spotting Stryker, the team mascot, who was taking photos with fans), I was given beads with a football pendant to wear.
There is also tons of action when they are not playing. There is a great preshow to get you pumped up and a lovely half-time show, but that is typical. In addition to that, the Sidewinders, which is their cheer/dance team, perform between periods and in the end zones throughout, and during media time outs or other periods of “down time,” a Gator is driven around the field with the Rattlers flag, they play games in the audience complete with prizes, they have a t-shirt toss, and more. There literally is not a time where you’re just sitting waiting for something to watch. As my husband put it, “It’s like one giant party!”
All of that is great, but none of that is the over-the-top thing that made my husband and me become season ticket holders. The one thing that the Arizona Rattlers have done that it feels other professional sports teams have not? They have made me feel like I’m an important part of the team.
During the warmup before the game, fans often stand near the field and players will come over and talk to them and give them high fives. During the game, players will interact with the fans as well doing hand motions asking for fans to cheer or coming by the stands to give a high five after a touchdown. Want a player’s autograph or a photo with him? No problem. Just head down to the field after the game where players will be waiting at a table to meet with you to do just that. Yes, the Arizona Rattlers have remembered that without fans like us, there is no point.
If you live in the Phoenix area, why not check out a game? There are still a few left in the season – July 11, July 26, and August 8. Not only are they fun, it’s a great way to get out of our summer heat.
Check my list below to see if there is an Arena Football League team near you and simply click on their name to be taken to their website for more information.