Top 25 Rowdiest Atmospheres in Arena Football History

Jan 19, 2012 Arena Football League

After submitting selections for the Top 25 Uniforms in Arena Football League history in December, the Silver Anniversary Committee began casting their votes for the League’s second historical countdown list, the AFL’s Top 25 Rowdiest Atmospheres. The Committee, which consists of longtime League executives, coaches, media members and former players, was asked to weigh in on which franchises boasted the loudest fan bases and most intense environments creating the best home field advantages in AFL history. Arena Football fans may also begin voting on the Arena Football Fan Poll and can share their thoughts and memories on the #AFL25 Message Board. But while fans will have another week to place their votes, the Silver Anniversary Committee’s submissions have been tallied and the results are in. 1. Orlando Predators (1998-2000) After being voted the top uniform in AFL history in December, the Preds come away with another first place finish, this time as the rowdiest atmosphere in Arena Football history. Led by All-Ironman Barry Wagner and Head Coach Jay Gruden, Orlando made three consecutive trips to the ArenaBowl from 1998-2000, during which time “The Jungle” was the wildest arena in the game. 2. Iowa Barnstormers (1995-1997) Before Kurt Warner embarked on his fairy tale journey to superstardom in the NFL, he made “The Barn” the place to be in Des Moines. With the future Hall of Famer under center and backed by one of the loudest fan bases in AFL history, Iowa lost just two home contests from 1996-1997, appeared in ArenaBowls X and XI, and made the cowbell a “must-have” accessory for all Barnstormer games. 3. Tampa Bay Storm (1991-1996) The Tampa Bay Storm possess one of the richest franchise histories in Arena Football, but as anyone who’s ever been involved in any capacity with the “War on I-4” will tell you, there are few fans more passionate about their team than the Storm-faithful. And while the Storm has always boasted an intense fan base, perhaps the most electric atmosphere came from 1991-1996. Led by the likes of Jay Gruden, Stevie Thomas and George LaFrance, the Storm made four ArenaBowl appearances in six years, culminating in an ArenaBowl IX showdown with the rival Orlando Predators, in which 25,087 rabid fans packed into “Thunderdome.” 4. Albany Firebirds (1994-1999) “Touchdown” Eddie Brown gave Albany fans plenty to cheer about in the mid-1990s. Firebird fans created quite the atmosphere at the Times Union Center, giving Albany a distinct home field advantage and helping the team claim ArenaBowl XIII in front of its home crowd. 5. Arizona Rattlers (1994-2004) As evidenced by last season’s ArenaBowl XXIV crowd, the “Snake Pit” has always been home to some of Arena Football’s rowdiest fans. For a ten-year period, few places were tougher for opposing teams to visit than Arizona. Rattler fans got behind AFL legends Sherdrick Bonner, Hunkie Cooper, Calvin Schexnayder and Randy Gatewood, helping the team to five ArenaBowl appearances. 6. San Jose SaberCats (2002-2004) With only three losing seasons in their storied franchise history, San Jose fans have had plenty to cheer about over the years. But from 2002-2004, the HP Pavilion was no place for visitors. Fans in the “Cats’ Lair” made sure opposing squads knew whose house they were entering, helping Mark Grieb and the SaberCats to a 13-1 finish in 2002 and two ArenaBowl wins in three years over the rival Arizona Rattlers. 7. Chicago Rush (2006-2007) Chicago fans made the Allstate Arena a tough place to play in the mid-2000s and the Rush rewarded them with an ArenaBowl XX championship. 8. Detroit Drive (1988-1993) The Drive put together an impressive run of five consecutive ArenaBowl appearances, including three straight wins from 1988-1990. George LaFrance, Dwayne Dixon and Gary Mullen electrified the Detroit crowds, placing them at #8 on the Top 25 list. 9. Spokane Shock (2010-2011) “Deaf Valley” comes in at #9 on the Committee’s Top 25 list. Spokane made a big statement in their first AFL season in 2010, going 13-3 and winning ArenaBowl XXIII. There’s no doubt their home field advantage was a big reason why. The Spokane crowd has made Veterans Memorial Arena one of the League’s toughest places to play today. 10. Nashville Kats (1999-2001) Nashville came up shy of ArenaBowl championships in 2000 and 2001, but that didn’t stop the Kats’ crowd from making the Bridgestone Arena a rough spot for opposing teams to visit. Cheering on superstars like Darryl Hammond, the Music City comes in at #10. 11. Grand Rapids Rampage (2001-2003) Led by quarterback Clint Dolezel, the Grand Rapids Rampage come in at #11. In front of a crowd of more than 11,000 strong, the Rampage defeated the Nashville Kats in ArenaBowl XV. 12. New Orleans VooDoo (2004) In a countdown of the rowdiest atmospheres, certainly New Orleans is on the list. “The Graveyard” made its debut in 2004 and has been a scary place for opponents ever since. 13. Philadelphia Soul (2008) Philadelphia sports fans are one of a kind and there is no denying their passion. During the Soul’s championship run in 2008, there was no tougher place to visit than South Broad Street. 14. Colorado Crush (2004-2007) The John Dutton-to-Damian Harrell connection had the Pepsi Center rocking in the mid-2000s. Denver fans showed up loud and proud, helping the Crush claim the ArenaBowl XIX title in 2005. 15. Jacksonville Sharks (2010-2011) The reigning ArenaBowl champs come in at 15. With budding rivalries in Tampa Bay and Orlando, the “Shark Tank” is quickly becoming one of the most feared destinations in Arena Football. 16. Utah Blaze (2011) Though the team is still looking for its first winning season in franchise history, Blaze fans still come out in droves to support their team. The raucous Salt Lake City crowd created a significant home field advantage in 2011, where the Blaze went 7-2 at the EnergySolutions Arena. 17. Milwaukee Mustangs (1996-2000) The Mustangs made four playoff runs in five years from 1996-2000 and their fan base of loyal cheeseheads were with them every step of the way, including their 1998 home opener, which saw more than 17,000 pack the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. 18. Dallas Desperados (2002-2006) Desperado fans created a furious atmosphere in the mid-2000s at the American Airlines Center. Win or lose, the Dallas crowd always made the trip to the Lone Star State a rough one for opponents. 19. Columbus Destroyers (2004-2008) The Columbus Destroyers never had a winning season, but they always had passionate fans at the arena. 20. Los Angeles Avengers (2002-2005) Los Angeles fans made their presence felt in the Staples Center in the mid-2000s, where Chris Jackson and Tony Graziani gave fans reason to stand for their Avengers. 21. Pittsburgh Gladiators (1987-1990) One of the original four AFL franchises, the Gladiators made two ArenaBowl appearances in three years, providing the Steel City with plenty to cheer about. 22. Indiana Firebirds (2001-2004) The Firebirds may have had only one winning season after relocating to Indiana, but Indianapolis fans loved their Firebirds. 23. New York Dragons (2001-2006) The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum saw its share of wild games and the New York crowd always let opposing teams know where they were, supporting the Dragons all the way. 24. Memphis Pharaohs (1995-1996) The Pharaohs spent just two seasons at the Pyramid in Memphis and never saw much success on the field, but off the field, their fans were certainly loud and proud. 25. Denver Dynamite (1987) The inaugural ArenaBowl champions round out the Top 25. In 1987, Denver ruled the Arena Football world and their fans made sure opposing teams knew it. Did the Silver Anniversary Committee get it right? Who got snubbed? Now it’s time to cast your vote in the Top 25 Rowdiest Atmospheres Fan Poll and share your thoughts on the #AFL25 message board!