Tis the season for NBA playoffs, Real soccer and baseball with the Bees. But, what about those die-hard football fans just waiting for the return of the gridiron in the fall? Check out the Utah Blaze, our local areana football team, at EnergySolutions arena. The plays are just as intense, and it all goes down in a space that usually hosts basketball games and concerts; not huge, stadium sized football games.

"It's the perfect way for the true football junkie to get their fix," says Jeremy Barnes, who hit his first Blaze game late last month.

Even if you're not a football fanatic (guilty), these games are pretty darn entertaining. First of all, the field is teeny (about the same size as a standard NHL hockey rink). And the players are huge. As a result it's a fast action, high-scoring event, and if you sit anywhere in the lower bowl, you'll get an up close look at every tackle and play. Only a heavily padded barrier about a foot wide separates the field from spectators, adding a very up-close-and-personal touch to the whole thing.

The general run of the game works essentially the same way as college ball or the NFL, but because everything is played out in a smaller space, even the goalposts are more petite at 9 feet wide.

Games run four, 15-minutes quarters with a standard 15-minute half time, and the crowd spans Boy Scout troops to uber-fans sporting wigs, masks and over-the-top duds. All of the remaining home games are slated for Friday and Saturday nights, so it's the perfect family outing, date night or evening out with pals. Tickets start at $10 for upper bowl seats and peak at $100 for sideline seats. Lower bowl seats range from $15 to $60.

Visit utblaze.com for more info and tickets.

HOME SCHEDULE

May 4 at 7pm - Spokane Shock                                    
May 19 at 7pm - Arizona Rattlers                                   
May 26 at 7pm - San Antonio Talons                           
June 9 at 7pm - Chicago Rush                                                   
June 23 at 7pm - Georgia Force                                     
July 13 at 6pm - Cleveland Gladiators

Photos: Al Walters