- Aaron S. Terry
Vibrant Arena at The Mark – Quad City Steamwheelers
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Vibrant Arena at The Mark 1201 River Dr Moline, IL 61265
Quad City Steamwheelers website
Vibrant Arena at the Mark website
Year Opened: 1993
The Quad City Steamwheelers were originally founded in 1999 as part of Arena Football 2 (AF2) – they dominated the league for the first 2 years, going undefeated and winning the first ArenaCup by a score of 103-3. The following season they only lost 1 game, and ending up winning the title for a second time in a row. Their owner at the time was Jim Foster, the inventor and patent holder of arena football.
AF2 lasted 10 seasons, but after it folded in 2009, the Quad City Steamwheelers would return in 2018, playing in the same building but this time as part of Champions Indoor Football (CIF), and later as part of the Indoor Football League (IFL), where they are currently a member. The Steamwheelers play their home games at what is now called Vibrant Arena at The Mark in Moline, Illinois – the arena sits on the banks of the Mississippi River, which divides Iowa from Illinois.
Food & Beverage 5
Vibrant Arena has a huge range of concessions options at all price points, so you definitely should be able to find something to suit your tastes and budget. Most of the stands serve the same menu, namely chicken sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, pork tenderloins, and chicken fingers, as well as nachos, fried, caramel corn, ice cream from Whitey’s, packaged candy, and hot pretzels. Most of the side items come in at $4 while hot dogs are $5, with the chicken tenders combo with fries being the most expensive item on the menu at $11.99 (strangely the more expensive items end in 99, while the cheaper items have whole dollar prices).
The main stands also offer bottled water, Gatorade, soda, and a small selection of beer, all of which can be had for $6 or less ($5.49 for beer is literally a steal). There are also convenience store-type stands which offer a wider selection of canned beer, bottled water, and soda.
Besides the main stands, there is also another location called the Brewhouse Lounge and Patio, which offers more of a full bar, as well as burritos, tacos, and quesadillas for $10 each. The Brewhouse has both indoor and outdoor seating, so if you want you can sit outside and look out over the river as you dine. You can also grab a drink on Budweiser Terrace, the other full bar inside the facility.
Quad City offers a solid atmosphere for arena football, including the dance team, fan contests like ‘Finish the Lyrics’, and fan interaction such as the ‘Passionate Kiss Cam’, where fans are shown on the videoboard and expected to kiss. The Steamwheelers also have watch parties at Vibrant Arena for away games, with the game shown on the big screen, and there are also TVs in the concourse so you don’t miss the action while grabbing something to eat.
Vibrant Arena is also home to minor league hockey’s Quad City Storm, so there is a bit of a mix in terms of the décor inside, but there is plenty of Quad City Steamwheelers signage around. In a nod to one of their sponsors, the midfield logo is actually that of John Deere, which has a pretty massive facility a block from the venue, but behind one end zone there is a wall-to-wall QC banner, in what is known as the Quad City Party Cove.
There are a couple of upscale restaurants within walking distance of Vibrant Arena, though the aforementioned John Deere Pavilion (a collection of hands-on exhibits focused on tractors and other heavy machinery) takes up a good chunk of real estate nearby, as does the river. The 2 closest restaurants are Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse and Bass Street Chop House, but there are plenty of less expensive options a little further away, including across the river in Iowa.
Besides the John Deere Pavilion, another nearby attraction is the geology museum on Augustana College’s campus, and there are also several parks nearby, the largest being on Sylvan Island, on the Illinois side of the river.
Vibrant Arena is by no means full during a Quad City Steamwheelers game, but this is a bit misleading as, unlike many indoor football venues, they do sell seats in the upper level here, leaving fans more spread out – at most other indoor football venues fans are forced to sit downstairs, making the venue seem fuller (usually with black curtains hung to make the upper level seem non-existent).
Getting to Vibrant Arena is easy, being that the venue is right on the river – the facility is within sight of I-74 coming south across the river, making traffic very manageable if you are coming from the Iowa side, or you can use I-74 northbound if you are on the Illinois side. You can park for $5 right next to the arena, which is a steal, and there are still plenty of spaces available there even if you arrive only 10 minutes before kickoff.
Once inside the venue there is plenty of space to move around, plenty of areas where you can sit at tables to eat and drink before going to your seat, and more than enough bathrooms. There are escalators and elevators to take you between floors, and all the seats have chairbacks.
Return on Investment 5
The Quad City Steamwheelers use Ticketmaster, which has tickets starting at $15 plus fees, so you would be better off buying from the box office on the day of, if you are looking to save a little dough. Parking at $5 is a steal as I mentioned, and you can find cheap concessions as well, including beer, so taking in a game here is definitely a great value, and an enjoyable time.
The Steamwheelers have a team gear stand on site, and a lot of promotions and freebies from local companies, such as free t-shirts and koozies from a local radio station, or free candy even when it isn’t Halloween. They also have cheerleaders from local high school teams perform at halftime, which is a great way to support the community.
The IFL has venues all across the country, from San Diego to Boston, some of which are in NBA-quality venues like the Arizona Rattler’s Footprint Center, which offers better amenities but also comes at a much steeper ticket price, and with larger crowds as well. In contrast, Vibrant Arena offers a more laid-back experience, where you can simply enjoy the spring version of the game we all love – seeing a game here is well worth a trip if you can make it.