A few weeks back, Amy & I were joined by my parents for another Chicago Rush home game. This time the Arena Football action featured the Rush taking on the Iowa Barnstormers, one of the teams that were "promoted" from af2 into the relaunched AFL that we have this year.

Amy, Mom, and Dad

It was also Armed Forces Day, with each of the four branches being represented, along with a huge American flag unveiled at the beginning of the game. Halftime consisted of a tug-of-war between the services, and the video monitors played quite a few Army/Navy/Marines/Air Force commercials.

Yup, Armed Forces Night

As we've mentioned in previous recaps from our game experiences this year, they've been less than stellar. I keep hoping that the new league will get their act together and that we're just experiencing the growing pains associated with a year of no games, but so far, I have not been encouraged. This game against Iowa was a perfect example of things getting worse, rather than better.

Now, when it comes to attending an AFL game, I view it as really a collection of 2 experiences. There's the "On The Field" product, which consists of the players, the team, the actual competition. Then there's the "Sideshow", which is pretty much everything else, including promotions, giveaways, activity between plays, stadium ambiance, game operations. When I think about the "entertainment value" of attending a Rush game, I factor in both these experiences and basically ask myself, "Was this worth the ticket price or could this money have been spent elsewhere for better value?"

Action on the field (Sorry for the quality; camera battery died, resorted to mobile phone)

For this game, the Rush's on-field performance was quite lacking, losing to Iowa 44-30. However, while the quality of play in AFL 2.0 has been notably less stellar than the previous incarnation of the AFL, it's been tolerable. It's in the 2nd area, the "Sideshow", where one has to really question what's going on. The home game production in this area has been severely lacking for the Rush this season.

In case there was any question

I mention this because as a former AFL market and now a team in the current "new" AFL, we do have history to compare against, namely all home games from 2001-2008 vs. 2010. At this Rush/Barnstormers game, the inflatable Rush helmet that the team runs through during the introductions was gone. Heck, there were hardly any introductions. Lights didn't dim. No pyrotechnics. Nothing. Just a simple "here's your team" thing.

During the game itself, it's like the music folks were on vacation or something. Cue were missed, selections of tunes were very odd, and not once did they actually play "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation, the traditional touchdown song for the Rush. What, can't we afford the music rights anymore?

East Endzone attendance check: 10,363 was the reported attendance for this game

The promotions were "off", less frequent interactions with the crowd, and other elements just made for a lackluster experience in the "Sideshow" department. I really hope it was related to logistical issues with the whole Armed Forces thing, but we'll see. In any case, the Rush reported 10,363 in attendance on this Saturday evening game. Looking at the size of the crowd and our classic East Endzone benchmark photo, I'd say that was very severely "papered."

Overall, it probably was one of the worst "atmosphere" experiences we've had at a Rush game. When your team is getting clobbered as they were that night, you rely quite a bit more on the "other stuff" to keep your crowd engaged. Didn't happen. Even if the Rush were winning, the same things were lacking.

On the plus side, we did some some new advertisers fill in many of the blank sideboards:

Dodge was signed as a "Marketing Partner" (Press Release) and not only gets signage, but also will have vehicles at the game. In fact, at this game they drove a truck onto the field before the game.

RAM Trucks are also a "Marketing Partner" (Press Release). When Chrysler merged/was-bought-out-by Fiat, they spun off the Ram brand as a stand-alone for their truck division. Yeah, doesn't make sense to me either.

Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning
Yes, we now have a local HVAC sponsor, Four Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning. So call them when your A/C breaks. Or something.

NBC Chicago
This is our local NBC owned-and-operated station, WMAQ. They obviously want to promote their "News+TMZ" site, NBCChicago.com. I'm not sure the ad will help their pageviews, and lord knows they have one of the worst sports departments in town… but I'm sure the Rush will take their money.

Time to step it up, Chicago Rush!

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