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Family Arena

St. Charles, MO

Home of the St. Louis Ambush



Family Arena (map it)
2002 Arena Parkway
St. Charles, MO 63303

St. Louis Ambush website

Family Arena website

Year Opened: 1999

Capacity: 9,643

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


Lengthy Soccer Legacy Continues at St. Louis Ambush Games

Back in the late 1970’s with pro hockey waning in popularity, the growth of soccer took a significant turn in the St. Louis area. The NHL’s Blues had fallen on hard times both financially and on the ice, fans did not show up at the old St. Louis Arena as they had the previous decade since their inception.

At the same time, an already popular sport at the amateur level, soccer, began to morph into a new game. Indoor soccer arrived in 1978 in the form of the Major Indoor Soccer League, a six-team league with clubs in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It was a blended sport combining the playing field boundaries of an ice hockey rink with boards and glass, Astroturf as the surface and six players aside in similar positions as that of a hockey team.

The ball was a bit smaller than that used in the outdoor game. Competition was to be based on speed, ball control, physical play as in hockey and greater, uninterrupted excitement than the outdoor game provides. In 1979, St. Louis joined the League as the Steamers competing with ten other teams.

While the St. Louis Blues traditionally played home games mostly on Saturday nights, the newcomers to The Arena scheduled their home games mostly on Friday nights. It did not take long for the Steamers to outdraw the Blues. I can remember the opening Steamers game against the Hartford Hellions selling out by the time we arrived at The Arena. I have the program bought outside the turnstiles, but no ticket and no game. St. Louis was going nuts for the new game, playing it and watching it.

In 1988 and after ten years, the Steamers and pro indoor soccer gave way to a resurgent St. Louis Blues hockey squad which was more competitive than it had been during the Steamers’ inception. Interest remained tepid at best for indoor soccer, but still, several ownership groups continued with teams in alternative indoor soccer leagues.

The St. Louis Storm (1989-92), the original St. Louis Ambush (1992-2000), and finally a re-born St. Louis Steamers franchise (1998-2006) have all tried and failed at a return. Now the new St. Louis Ambush take the field in an attempt to rekindle interest in the indoor game. In their inaugural 2013-14 season, the team posted a 4-16 record, good for 6th place, but drawing an average of 5,636 fans ranking 3rd among the seven teams.

With the St. Louis area’s long soccer legacy and interest in soccer continuing to grow, the new Ambush seem to be doing all the right things to generate interest. The next step is getting talent on the field to register a better competitive record.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

There are very few neat treats to enjoy at the Family Arena, and nothing spectacular. You should know that permanent stands accept credit cards and cash while the temporary concourse food and drink carts are cash only. Related to this, you will be overwhelmed with the number of laser-printed signs indicating "cash only" at these carts. It seems like there could be a better way to communicate a permanent message than with temporary signs. Or, with all of the technology in place, consider accepting credit card payments through a PDA using Square.

Pepsi products are the soft drink of choice at $5 a bottle. Bottled water is $4, while coffee and hot chocolate are $3. Fruit juice and Capri Sun are $2. Fresh squeezed lemonade in several flavors is $4 for a 16oz. cup and $6 for a 32oz. cup.

For beer lovers, Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller, Boulevard are the choices. Twenty ounce draft beer is $8 while a 16oz. bottle is $7. Smirnoff and mixed drinks are also available. More beer and mixed drink options can be found behind section 102.

Regular hot dogs are $5, a bratwurst is $6 and a jumbo hot dog is $7. Nachos are $6 with popcorn offered in two sizes, small at $4 and large at $7. Hot soft pretzels are $4 with an added cup of cheese at $1. Pretzel bites with cheese are $6.

As for some special items, there is a hot regular and candied nut stand, the Nut Hut, behind section 102. Load up on small bags of these nuts, prices of which decrease per bag the more you buy. Almonds, cashews and walnuts are offered. Delish!

As for finer dining choices inside the arena, there is one option, the Arena Club above section 203 in a top corner of the upper bowl. There you will be able to enjoy the Chef's Table Buffet, an All-You-Can-Eat option opening one hour prior to game time (90 minutes for season ticket holders) and continuing until after halftime is complete. The menu changes from game-to-game but always includes soup, salad, two entrées, two sides, and a variety of desserts. Pricing is $19.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids 10 & under. It includes unlimited soft drinks with buffet purchase. A full bar is available as well.

Atmosphere    3

The Family Arena is what could be considered a venue constructed in a less expensive fashion than many minor league indoor arenas. The exterior is a mix of concrete and metal with no real charm or design worth writing home about.

Inside, while it has a concourse and seating which surround the playing surface, the field is ground level meaning you have to get to the main course by stairs or one of the few elevators in the building.

Whether entering at the north or south end, the only two entrances, you are met with two permanent concession stands opposite the stairway entrance. Travel up one level and you have arrived at the only concourse in the building as fans gain access to lower bowl and upper bowl seats here. Restrooms, a merchandise stand, concession stands and carts as well as access to the Arena Club are found here.

The box offices are at the southeast (B) and southwest (A) corners of the building with both indoor and outdoor windows. Will call can be found inside the building at the southeast corner box office.

The Ambush twice attack the goal which is directly in front of where sections 111 and 112 meet while the visitors attack the goal in front of where sections 101 and 122 meet.

The Arena Club, open to the public, is above section 203. It features a buffet style setting, full bar, large tables and high chair/tables with view of the field. If wanting to eat and watch the game, get there an hour before game time. For perspective sake, the view allows you to face the benches with a goal directly in front of you and the rink extending to your left.

Like many modern minor league arenas, there is no center hung scoreboard, particularly good for long volleys in the air. Score, game time, penalties and shots on goal are found at an expansive ribbon scoreboard at the upper level balcony. There are also much smaller scoreboards at this same balcony, but at midfield. Video boards are to your immediate left on your side of the field in the corner at section 209 and across the field to your right at section 220.

Ticket prices are offered in a wide range, costing between $15 and $47. Unlike a hockey rink where glass surrounds the entire playing surface, for indoor soccer, the glass is only installed on the ends and corners. This puts fans so much closer to the action. Therefore, first row seats around the playing field are $47 for a single game ticket.

If you want to save a little money, but still sit close, choose a lower level seat in rows 2 through 7 for $30. For $22 a seat, you can get a lower level seat in rows 8-15 on the sideline sections (104-108 and 115-119) or an upper bowl seat on the side sections (205-207 and 216-218). Seats in the end sections (101-103, 109-114 and 120-122) at row 8 and higher are $18. Upper level ends and corners are $15.

Overall, these prices are quite a bit higher than I would have expected from an indoor soccer match, but the team seems to be drawing well. I suspect, though, fans might be purchasing cheaper tickets and moving down. At the most recent game I attended, the first row was packed with every seat taken by youngsters. I have trouble believing they paid anywhere near $47 per ticket to sit there. Even the low price point was not low enough for me. I expected a $10 ticket at least somewhere. Still, the fans love the product and continue to come in droves.

There is a row of private suites which divide the upper on lower bowls. Access comes from a locked door and provides counter space and a monitor inside the unit with protected stadium seats situated just in front of the enclosed area.

As for the best seat for the money, I like the first row of section 208, a $15 ticket with a railing seat, equal view of each goal and facing the benches. On this side of the field, the first row is about six feet above the walkway in front of it, this for media access and the press area.

The lower bowl has about 18 rows and the upper bowl has about 14 rows. Seats number from left to right when facing the chair backs with your back to the playing surface. There are at most 22 seats in the longest row with tapering in the corner sections closer to the playing surface. Cup holders are near the ground of the seat in front of you to place your drink. Sightlines are fairly good throughout, but better in the upper bowl on the sides. Avoid the ends of the field at both levels unless you are sitting in one of the first couple of rows.

The main and only concourse has aisles appropriate for the crowd size with large green canvas curtains separating the seating area from the concourse walkways. Things stack up when concession lines back-up into the aisle way. Be careful as you pass through the curtain as you might walk right into someone on the other side.

While at the event, you will enjoy a nice mix of canned music and organ playing. Promotions are sprinkled in enough to keep fans engaged enough in the slow periods of the contest. Importantly, the volume level is appropriate and not blaring.

Neighborhood    2

The Family Arena is in St. Charles, close to the casinos and the historic downtown area, but it is not settled in the bustling, nearby area. When you got to the Family Arena, there is no walking around before the game at restaurants, shops, and bars.

Still, very nearby and to the north, there is the historic St. Charles downtown area filled with shops and restaurants to enjoy. There is also a floating casino on the west bank of the Missouri River just north of Highway 70. It is about a half mile from the historic area. To the east and across the river are two more casinos.

Fans    3

St. Louis is a soccer-booming market where tens of thousands of kids play the game on a regular basis. The long soccer legacy of the game in this city where generations have played help strengthen the interest level. On the night I attended the game, the Ambush hosted reunion night welcoming soccer greats from the St. Louis Stars era of the 1960s through the present. Representatives from all of the earlier indoor soccer teams were on hand. 7,347 fans showed up for this Thursday night game, the last of ten home games during the inaugural campaign.

At this point, it is a matter of right-sizing the ticket pricing and improving the talent on the field. Although the Ambush finished in 7th place with a 4-16 record, the club averaged 5,636 fans in their first season, good for 3rd place in league attendance.

Access    3

St. Charles is a small city surrounded by major thoroughfares which are close to the Family Arena, but not too close. The arena is on the western bank of the Missouri River situated just south of Highway 70 and just north of Highway 364 (also known as the Page Avenue extension). From the east, you can reach each of them from Highway 270 which is the highway loop which encircles the St. Louis Area.

From Highway 70, take exit 229A if you are driving from the west or 229B if you are driving from the east. This is the 5th Street Exit. From Highway 364, take exit 14 and head North to South River Road. These two routes eventually lead to Arena Parkway where the arena sits on the east side of the street.

Parking is $5 per car and surrounds the arena, but general parking is best accessed on the south side of the arena giving you access to the south and east sides of the general parking area.

There is no street parking anywhere near the arena and mass transit of any kind does not travel out this far. So $5 parking is it.

As for bathrooms, there are plenty around the main level and are rarely congested.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets are a little high priced. I would have expected there to be a $10 price point, but $15 is the cheapest available. Food is fairly priced and parking is quite cheap. Merchandise prices are a bit high, but all in all, fair pricing for an evening at an Ambush game.

Extras    4

Game Program - for $3, you get a comprehensive program complete with stats and updated rosters. Get one behind section 121.

Mascot - Bushwacker is the team mascot. Outfit in a safari motif and teal hat, the mascot is a carryover from the original Ambush days.

Merchandise - options are wide open with low and high price points. Prices for some of the items are much higher than expected. I was a little surprised prices were not more in line with that of other teams. As an example, basic screen printed t-shirts for $20, mini soccer balls for $20 and full size soccer balls for $40 seemed a bit excessive. It seems they need to get better vendor pricing. You can find the selection of what the team offers behind section 121.

Website - Provides all of the details and is cleanly conveyed for quick information. Some team websites are complicated, but this one is well done and appropriate.

What a terrible place for a arena

Was there in March for a Chill hockey game.Their prices for tickets much more reasonable just $5 for gen admission in the upper bowl.But other than that the arena is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by gravel pit.Also the seats in the arena sit so low it is hard to get out of it.My lower back was sore the next day.

by bandit fan | May 25, 2014 12:06 AM

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