[play] The Wichita Wild: Arena Football 101
If you’re looking for something different to do on Friday, consider a Wichita Wild game. My brother-in-law told me he thought I would like it because it’s fast-paced and fans sit really close to the game. He was right. The game moves quickly, there’s always something going on during breaks in play (such as T-shirt giveaways, the dance team performing, a rib-eating contest – In know, right?!), and they have a fully stocked bar.
I consider arena football a cross between football and hockey. You move a soccer game indoors, and it’s faster-paced. Same thing happens with football. But because the game’s high-contact, you get the “impact” of a hockey game. Only the walls don’t go all the way up. And if a pass goes out of bounds, a fan is the lucky owner of a football. Plus, sometimes catches are attempted over the wall. I respect this kind of flip-over effort. And I don’t care who you are; watching grown men slam each other into a (padded) wall is always exciting. Unlike stadium football, you’re sitting close enough to appreciate how hard the hits are.
The field itself is half the length (50 yards instead of 100) of a stadium football field, and about half the width (at 85 feet instead of 150). The game has 15-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime. The clock doesn’t stop except for in the final minute of play, aside from things like timeouts, injuries or change of possession. And teams are allowed a 35-second play clock between the end of the previous play and the start of the next one. This is all an attempt to make the game move quickly and be more exciting.
The walls on the field are about waist-high. Teams sit behind the end zone, leaving prime seating for the fans. The first row even holds the first down markers. Players will even talk to fans and give high fives after big plays. Kids seemed to have a great time, especially those sitting right up close to the action. And some over-zealous adults who got a hold of a cowbell seemed to have equally as much fun.
Seating is a little tight unless you sit in one of their “lodge boxes” at the top of the stadium. The boxes have four seats a piece, more leg room, and access to extra amenities such as hors d’oeurves, a private bar and a separate entrance. Even though the box seating is at the top of the arena, everything’s so close that you still get a good view of the game.
If you’re like us and sit in the cheap seats, you can probably find seats for your group with enough room to stretch your legs to the next row or move around when an impromptu dance party breaks out. Hey, you can’t blast fun music between every play (after giving us beer) and not expect there to be dancing!
We bought our tickets at the box office the night of the game, but you can also buy online. When I looked, there appeared to be a fee of $2.50 associated with each ticket, which we didn’t pay the night of the game. There is also a parking fee ($5 per car), which we also didn’t have to pay. But we arrived after the game started, so that might be why. Tickets range from $5 to $15. The box seat prices weren’t listed, but my brother-in-law said they paid $30 for theirs.
The game starts at 7:05 p.m. tonight at Hartman Arena (in Park City, located at I-135 and 77th Street North).