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ArenaFan Rewriting The History Books: Test Game Date Revealed To Be Wrong

Tim Capper
Monday April 30, 2012

The Arena Football League has had many historical dates in its 25 years of existence:

2/11/81: Jim Foster attends an indoor soccer game in New York and diagrams the outline of a football field over a hockey rink on a manila envelope, inventing the sport of Arena Football.

2/27/87: "Showcase Game" between the Chicago Bruisers and Miami Vise is played at the Rosemont Horizon (now named Allstate Arena)

6/19/87: The first ever regular season game in AFL history is played in Pittsburgh

When you have been a part of history, it is something that will never be forgotten. You are now part of a special group of people that can say, I was here, on this date, at this location, at this time, witnessing this event.

Now, what if a historical anniversary was suddenly forgotten or changed without your knowledge? How would you feel? Ask anyone who has missed a wedding anniversary, or a birthday and you’ll have your answer.

It seems I have stumbled upon one such instance. But in this case, the anniversary has been wrong for possibly 25 years.

4/26/86: First "Test Game" played in Rockford, IL between the Rockford Metros and Chicago Politicians

I have been doing research for the league’s Silver Anniversary. I wanted to see if we could collect any information on the “Test Game,” as it was one of the dates in league history that had very little written about it.

To my surprise, I was able to request and receive a copy of the story written the day after the game from the Rockford (IL) Register Star archives. The story was everything it could be for any fan or historian, including a picture during game play.

After reading the story, I noticed something odd. First, the game story was published in the Monday, April 28, 1986 edition, plus the story mentioned the game was on Sunday the 27th. I went about to verify if this date was correct or was a misprint.

I contacted the Rockford Metro Center to verify what date they had on record. I was told Saturday, April 26, 1986. More information dug up from a Chicago Sun-Times story, written prior to the game, put into question the date given from the Metro Center. Sunday the 27th was mentioned as the day of the game. has tried to reach Commissioner Kurz and Arena Football inventor Jim Foster to verify this story, but has not received a response from either one.

Then the breakthrough. member Rush43 posted on the league’s Facebook page asking about the day that was showing on the “Test Game” tickets he had in his possession: Sunday, April 27, 1986.

It seems to this day, the Arena Football League’s record books, are wrong. The “Test Game” happened on Sunday, April 27, 1986 not on the 26th.

While I can understand the hesitance of the league in acknowledging this, it is irresponsible not to admit the error and attempt to correct it.

No one likes celebrating their birthday the day before they were born. Why should Arena Football fans be deceived in thinking the game was played on a date it wasn’t? We should all feel cheated.

Listen here for an exclusive podcast interview with the Rockford Register Star reporter, Charlie Rayman, who was on the scene covering the “Test Game”.

Click Here to see the first page of the newspaper article from the Rockford Register Star.

Click Here to see the second page of the newspaper article from the Rockford Register Star.

Tim Capper has been a staff member of ArenaFan since 2000 and been the host of AFL Tonight since its inception in 2001. Tim being an avid arena football fan since 1987, has attended games in 16 different cities, including 11 ArenaBowls. He currently lives in Montreal, Canada with his wife Karen. You can follow Tim on Twitter at @reppact
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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