I had a chance to go to an Arena 2 football game recently after several weeks of wonder what it was all about and if it was really worth going to a game. The local team, the Iowa Barnstormers, appeared to not be one of the best teams in Arena 2 so I wasn’t sure what I would be getting for my ticket price. However, football is football so I thought that I would go and check it out.
The game I saw pitted the Iowa Barnstorms against the Quad City Steamwheelers. The game was to be played inside the Des Moines Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Arena here in Des Moines Iowa. The location for the game was perfect as it was just a few short miles from where I lived and it was fairly easy to get to. My girlfriend accompanied me on this new adventure to my first Arena football game not knowing what to expect either and we were both in for a treat.
At first it didn’t appear as if there were going to be too many people at the game but I had to remind myself that we got there a little bit early so we would have time to find our seats, get something to eat and drink and see what the stadium was like. We had some great seats and I felt that we would be able to see all the action down on the field. However, and most unfortunately, as we would come to find out, some of the tallest people in the building! It was hard to see at times.
The crowd that night ended up to be a record for the season to date (with one more game left to go). It was also “black out” night that night as everyone was asked to wear black to support the Barnstormers that night. I wore black and my girlfriend wore red in honor of the Barnstormers colors.
The game itself was very exciting as it appears that most Arena Football games are. There is always a lot of scoring taking place due to the fact that they are playing on a short field and the rules are fairly relaxed when compared to those of NFL Football. The game was fun too because of the players and the fans. One player in particular, Daniel McLemore, was the on the field cheerleader dancing often during breaks in the action to the music playing overhead. He provided quite a bit of entertainment for myself and my girlfriend as well as the entire crowd. You don’t see that anymore during an NFL game!
The game was pretty close for a little while but thanks to some solid quarterback play and some lucky breaks, the Barnstormers were able win by a score of 76-53. The Barnstormers 73 points were the most that they had scored during the season in a single game and we got to see it all that night.
After the game, the fans were allowed to go down on the field and meet the players. We did not stay around for this and perhaps we missed out on something special but we were clearly satisfied with the game, the fans and the team. It was quite an experience.
At the game, the row that my girlfriend and I were sitting in was selected, along with another row in the stadium, to play a game called pass the box. Our row had to pass a small pizza box down the row and back, racing another row, in hopes of winning a free meal at the sponsoring restaurant. As luck would have it, our row won and we won a free dinner at the restaurant where the Barnstormers hold their family night activities.
Family night was Monday night and so we decided to use our free meal passes and go eat dinner with the Barnstormers. We managed to get a seat right by the defensive squad and got to hear them talking about their game that Saturday and their upcoming game against the Lexington Horsemen. One thing that I did notice (and I had picked this up from the game the other night) was that their defensive coordinator, a former wide receiver for the Washington Redskins, Phoenix Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) and the Kansas City Chiefs J.T. Smith was there. I had remembered Smith from his playing days way back when I in high school and I remembered that I had several football cards of his as well.
It took a lot of nerve on my behalf but I got up and talked to Smith before leaving the restaurant. I told him that I remembered him from back in his playing days when I was younger and he said, jokingly “Are you calling me old”? I managed to get my picture taken with him, something that I will certainly always treasure. This, along with other things that I have observed about the Barnstormers, has lead me to believe that they are very community oriented and thankful for their fans.
This is the Barnstormers first season back after being gone for a few years. They did have a rich history prior to their leaving Iowa for a while and they bring that history back with them. Perhaps some of you will remember when a not so well known (at the time) quarterback who took the Arena 2 league by storm, Kurt Warner. Warner went on to become a two time NFL MVP and a Super Bowl winner.
You just never know who might end up being a star!
By Bryan Dietzler