PHOENIX - While the NFL Draft offers plenty of excitement and anticipation for Arizona Cardinals’ fans, the reality is that the beginning of the 2014 NFL season is still three months away. In the meantime, there’s an exciting Valley-based football team that does nothing but win, yet still struggles to earn the attention of local fans.
The Arizona Rattlers, which play their home games in Phoenix’s U.S. Airways Center (home of the Phoenix Suns), are one of the oldest and most successful franchises in the Arena Football League. They’ve won four championships, including the last two, and they’re the only AFL team to head into this weekend’s games with a 7-0 record.
The Rattlers are on the road this weekend but will return home to play the Spokane Shock on Sunday, May 18 at 3pm. Here are five reasons why you should consider attending that game, or any of the Rattlers’ other three remaining home games this season:
1. They win. The Rattlers’ back-to-back ArenaBowl championships are twice as many league titles as the Suns, Cardinals, Coyotes and Diamondbacks have ever won in the Valley combined. In fact, they have a 59-11 combined regular-season and playoff record since 2011.
But the Rattlers haven’t just been great recently; they’ve won nearly twice as many games as they’ve lost in their franchise history, and they have just two losing seasons dating back to 1992. Simply put: The Rattlers have been consistently good more often than any other Arizona pro sports franchise.
2. They score a lot. Arena football is known as an offense-friendly sport, and thus far in 2014, the Rattlers have led the way in that category. Their 462 points through their first seven games (66 points per game) are a league-high, and they’ve scored at least 57 points in each game, with a high of 73. If you’re a fan of offensive shootouts, you’re not likely to leave a Rattlers game disappointed.
3. Tickets are affordable. For the Rattlers’ next home game against Spokane, lower-section seats are available for as low as $33, and upper-level seats begin at less than $17 at ticketmaster.com. Translation: While the Cards, Suns and Coyotes are on hiatus, and the D-Backs continue to struggle, there’s still an opportunity to see a successful pro team in Phoenix at a reasonable price.
4. Fang. Rattlers’ games are also fun for anyone who enjoys noisy events. Loud music is played between each play, and a firework is set off following each Rattlers’ touchdown. But the star of the show is the Rattlers’ original mascot, Fang, who rides his motorcycle to the middle of the field for each pregame team introduction.
In 2000, the Phoenix New Times voted Fang the Best Team Mascot of Phoenix. As the New Times wrote back then, “Fang is what the Fonz would've turned out to be if he’d stopped hanging around those goody-goody Cunninghams and given those Steppenwolf albums a chance.”
5. A possible preview of a three-peat. In 2011, the Rattlers lost a home heartbreaker in ArenaBowl XXIV to the Jacksonville Sharks, which scored the championship-winning touchdown on the game’s final play. In each of the last two seasons, the AFL decided to have the ArenaBowl played at a neutral site (New Orleans in 2012; Orlando, Fla., in 2013). The Rattlers won both games.
This season, the AFL has returned to the format of allowing the team with the better record to host the championship game. That means that, if the Rattlers keep winning, ArenaBowl XXVII will be played in Phoenix in August. It’s just one more reason why there’s no time like the present to buy tickets to a regular-season game and become emotionally invested in a team that may be on its way to notching a third straight AFL title.