Getting a rush out of football

Arena league offers all the fun at a fraction of the price of an NFL game

Combine the thrill of a high school football game with the spectacle of a circus and you’ve got arena football. This indoor brand of football is perfect for two groups of football fans: those of us who can’t quite cope with the end of the National Football League season and those of us who can’t quite afford to take the whole family to Soldier Field for a big league game.

Chicago Rush, the local home team of the Arena Football League, plays at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. The indoor setting makes for a close-up, cozy, yet exhilarating football experience. With no sidelines on the 50-yard field, fans can reach out and touch players, catch footballs missed by receivers and feel as though they’re a part of the game.

We watched the Rush beat the San Jose SaberCats 54-48 in a thrilling game that went into overtime. The kids stayed engaged throughout. When there was a lull on the field, the Rush revved up the pep band, brought out the cheerleaders or tossed T-shirts and mini footballs into the stands. My kids were so into it that they insisted we stay nearly an hour after the game so they could collect all of the players’ autographs.

There are no bad seats. Even the cheaper end-zone seats offer a decent view, with the help of the giant screen television on the overhead scoreboard.

This is affordable football. Tickets range from $10 to $35 (vs. $60-$95 for Chicago Bears tickets in the 2006 season). Parking at Allstate Arena adds another $11 and food is pricey—we spent an unconscionable $12.50 for a hot dog, nachos and bottle of water.

The fun starts two hours before game time with Family Fest, a free pre-game party that includes live entertainment, food and drinks, balloon artists, face painters, brush-on tattoos, football-toss games and video games.

The next Rush home game is at 3 p.m. April 23 at the Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont. For more information or to buy tickets, call (877) RUSHTIX (787-4849) or visit

Cindy Richards


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