football team running thru football field

AFL Arena Football League Test Season 1986-87

Test Schedule

AFL Arena Football League Test Season 1986-87

Match Day Test Game
(Test Game)
30 - 18

Rockford Metros vs Chicago Politicians

Match Day Showcase Game
(Showcase Game)
30 - 33

Chicago Bruisers vs Miami Vice


On February 11, 1981, James Foster witnessed an Indoor Soccer game at Madison Square Garden, and drew out the outline of an Indoor American Football field on a manilla envelope, using the same basic premise of a football field on a converted Ice Hockey rink. [2]

The first AFL test game was held on 27 April 1986 in Rockford, Illinois between the Rockford Metros and Chicago Politicians, and following positive public response the first “showcase game” in Chicago in front of 8,200 fans on February 27, 1987, where Miami Vice triumphed 33-30 over Chicago Bruisers. [2; 4-5]

About Arena Football

This version of American (or Gridiron) Football has become extremely popular in Mexico. Indoor Football, also known as Arena Football was developed in 1986 as an 8v8 form of Indoor American Football. After an initial few seasons where the game was developed with a 4 team league, a full seasons League with eventually over a dozen teams was developed in the 1990 which was considered by the Wall Street Journal to be a fifth major.

The Arena Football League over-expanded in the 2000s with a Minor League, and its importance (and number of teams) waned since it first experienced financial diffulties  in 2009, and it ceased operations after the 2019 season due to the legacy debt incurred. There is now, however, Indoor Football Leagues all over America, all of which would now be considered Minor League or Semi-Pro (AAA, AA, or even A)

Arena Indoor Football is played on a 50-yard field with two 8-yard endzones, and teams have 5 downs (attempts) to reach the endzone or the ball is turned over. 3 of those downs must be passing plays, making Indoor Football highly explosive and high scoring.

The main difference between Arena Football & Indoor Football is the rebound nets either side of the goalposts in Arena Football, which is the only part of the original patent given to the Arena Football League in 1989, that a subsequent ruling in 1998 ruled was copyright, the rest being Football already in other leagues.

Indoor American Football Photograph

football team running thru football field
Photo by Joe Calomeni on



[1] Arena Football League (2016) “2016 Record and Fact Book” pp. 57-65.

[2] Arena Football League (2016) “2016 Record and Fact Book” pp. 52-56.


[3] Arena Fan Facebook Page (2021) Post, April 27, 1987 [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 4 June 2021]


[4] Arena Fan (2021) History 1986 Schedule [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 4 June 2021]


Thanks to Richard Conville, Conor Lynch, Maurice Lynch, Dylan Brennan, Jonathan Brennan, Simon Brennan & Robert Byron.


Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball – Irish North American & World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 14 August 2022

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2022

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved. The Logos and Photos used in this article remain the property of the organisations and individuals which own the copyright and are used here for educational and information purposes only.

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