- Aaron S. Terry
Footprint Center – Arizona Rattlers
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Footprint Center 201 E Jefferson St Phoenix, AZ 85004
Year Opened: 1992
Welcome to the Snake Pit
The Arizona Rattlers have been playing indoor football for over 30 years, and have won 6 championships in that time, an astonishing 20% hit rate, including a threepeat from 2012-2014. They were members of the Arena Football League from 1992-2016 before joining the Indoor Football League for the 2017 campaign.
The team plays their home games at Footprint Center, also home to the Phoenix Suns of the NBA. Formerly known as Talking Stick Resort Arena, among other names, the facility holds just over 17,000 fans and was most recently renovated in 2020.
The Arizona Rattlers pull out all the stops for indoor football in Phoenix – pyrotechnics when the team comes onto the field, a great crowd, a superb facility, and all the other bells and whistles you could ask for.
Food & Beverage 4
Footprint Center has pretty much any food and beverage option you could ask for, including several large bar areas where you can sit and enjoy a drink within sight of the action on the field. The only downside is that the prices are high, as you may expect from an NBA arena (think $10 for a brat without fries, or $20 for a draft beer).
Main dishes include hot dogs, brats, burgers, chicken tenders, tacos, tamales, nachos (basic, chicken tinga, or al pastor), pizza, catfish or veggie po boys, Caesar salads, cauliflower with hot sauce and blue cheese (presumably for vegetarians and vegans), chicken sandwiches (including Nashville hot), hibachi bowls, poke bowls, fried rice, and even sushi rolls – yes, sushi rolls.
Side and snack items include cheesy garlic bread, fries, popcorn, cotton candy, ice cream, and packaged candy, as well as a few items from Wetzel’s Pretzels, which offers probably the best value at Footprint Center; a large serving of pretzel bites for around $8 (but add $2.50 per cup of dipping sauce to go with it).
Drink selections are just as varied, including soda, bottled water, regular lemonade, strawberry lemonade, draft or canned beer, hard seltzer, cocktails, and wine. There are even a couple of mini convenience stores with a huge selection of different beers and sodas (as well as a few packaged snacks), which are almost certain to have what you are looking for – if you are looking for a taste of Arizona, be sure to stop by these convenience stores to pick up prickly pear cactus flavored gummi bears or popcorn.
The atmosphere for Arizona Rattlers football couldn’t be better – the action starts when the team takes the field, with sparks and spurts of flame flying out of cones as the players make their entrances. There is also a stellar dance team and a great mascot named Stryker, who is all over the place taking pictures with fans in the stands, or the concourse, and he also shows up on the field with the dance team, pumping up the crowd – Stryker has a great look with the fangs and mottled pattern on his neck, perfectly reminiscent of the rattlesnake he represents.
The arena is not surprisingly called the Snake Pit, and the fans are loud and engaged the whole time, helped out immensely by a super-energetic P. A. announcer, constantly demanding they Make…Some…Noise! There are also plenty of activities to keep the crowd involved, such as great music and events like the Fist Pump Cam, where fans try to get themselves shown on the video board by doing the most energetic fist pumps. They also have a fundraiser where fans can buy miniature footballs, and try to throw them into baskets on the field for the chance to win a prize (held at the end of the third quarter).
With its location right downtown (next to Chase Field in fact, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks), Footprint Center has plenty of restaurants and entertainment options within walking distance – you may be able to pair a baseball game with an indoor football game if you time it correctly, although the Arizona Cardinals of course don’t play until the fall, so the two football seasons do not overlap.
Sky Harbor International Airport is not far from downtown – this airport is one of the biggest in the country, with destinations from all over. One of the nice features about it (which I think is relatively new) is that the sky train takes fans to locations outside the airport, including the rental car center, making it a lot easier to get to and from your flight.
As mentioned before, the fans at the Arizona Rattlers game are really loud and energetic and seem to be into the game. There is plenty of team gear being worn, and it is also sold on-site in case you want to pick something up. Unlike the prices at the concession stands, the prices for team gear are quite reasonable – the official football has a special logo marking the Rattler 30 plus years of dominance in the sport, so that would be a great souvenir to pick up ($40) – they also have a smaller version you can get for $15.
Not sure how long it will continue, but there is a lot of construction going on in and around Phoenix at present – for example, parts of I-10 and I-17 are closed for blasting. The location downtown also adds additional headaches in terms of traffic, although the good news is that indoor football is less well attended than basketball games, so it is a little easier to manage than visiting for a Suns game. Also, indoor football games generally happen on the weekend, and pretty much any city has easier traffic and parking on the weekends than on weekdays, since weekends don’t have all the commuters.
Even if you arrive close to kickoff, you can still park for $10 in a small lot right next to Chase Field, which is basically across the street from Footprint Center – a lot of fans also park for free on the side streets near the venue, which don’t have any parking fees at night and during the weekend, when the Rattlers games are likely to be happening.
Once you get inside Footprint Center itself it is very easy to move around, and there are no lines to speak of at most of the concession stands, given how many choices you have for food and beverages. There are also plenty of bathrooms and as I mentioned, plenty of bar areas as well. There are also 2 different team stores – a small one on the concourse plus the main one, which is slightly hidden in a corner near the main entrance (you could easily miss it if you aren’t paying attention).
Return on Investment 5
A ticket to an Arizona Rattlers game is most definitely worth the money – tickets start at around $30, and for that price, you get a phenomenal, fun, exciting experience. Parking is also reasonable, especially if you can park for free within walking distance. The only possible downside in terms of ROI is the cost of concessions, but there are enough options that if you plan carefully, you could easily see a game for under $50 per person.
I already mentioned the great mascot and dance team, the P. A. announcer, and all the different bar areas, but there are also great seating areas dotted around on both the upper and lower levels, where you can sit and drink or eat your food, instead of bumping elbows while trying to eat in your seat.
You can even visit part of the upper level (only some of it is designated for suite patrons only, and even that is not monitored very closely). But the Rattlers have also won all those championships, so you are guaranteed to see a great product on the field as well.
If there is any way you can make it out to Phoenix, I recommend visiting Footprint Center for an Arizona Rattlers game – if you have never seen indoor football before this would be a great way to start, and if you have watched the sport before, this is probably one of the best experiences for it that I have ever had.