A creature with roots in Native American lore, the Piasa bird has survived antiquity in large part due to etchings found on limestone bluffs throughout Illinois. Under the banner of the mythical predator— most depictions lend it reptilian claws, fish-like scales, and mammalian fangs—the Illinois Piasa charge onto the field against Professional Arena Soccer League foes, stopping just short of actually eating their opponents. Founded in 1998, the PASL consists of 19 indoor-soccer squads throughout the United States; upon their league debut in the 2010–11 season, the Piasa won the Pro Frontier Division with a 9–3 record.
A popular local gut-bustery for the past 17 years, Comedy, Etc. II keeps its calendar stuffed with a slew of elite court jesters—many of whom have been featured on the Tonight Show, HBO, Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, the Bob & Tom Show, and more. Watch local comics test out their soul tickles on Wednesday open mic night ($5 ticket value). Otherwise, chuckle at a better-known act such as John Rathbone ($10–$12.50 ticket value)—who's been seen on Comedy Central, heard on the Bob & Tom Show, and touched by thousands of random passing strangers—or the fast-paced one-lining of Dan Chopan ($10–$12.50 ticket value), who's appeared on MTV, PBS, and more.
As the only team to appear in the championship series for three straight seasons, the River City Rascals continue their dominance of the independent Frontier League. At their home stadium, T.R. Hughes Ballpark—the same field where players such as the St. Louis Cardinals' Josh Kinney and the New York Yankees' Justin Christian cut their major-league teeth by gnawing on aluminum bats—the River City Rascals face challenges from division rivals amid crowd-pleasing antics such as dizzy-bat races. On the field, outfielder Stephen Holdren returns after leading last year's playoffs with three homers and eight RBIs, and first-baseman Chris Andreas dons a Rascals uniform for the first time after hitting 0.336 with the Arizona Mariners. Throughout the season, several games feature special promotions such as a Salute to the Troops on August 29 and regular giveaways of posters and lifelike busts of managers' giant bobbing heads.
Like the CGI monster-filled remake of How Green Was My Valley, STL Cinemas combine state-of-the-art technology with classic Hollywood aesthetics. Mainstream blockbusters and independent films happily rub silver-screen shoulders on each theater's marquee, while the retro lounges and concession stands serve enough beer, wine, and classy sweets to keep movie-goers sugar-buzzing—or just plain buzzing—through any double-feature. Voted Readers' Pick Movie Theatre by St. Louis Magazine readers, the Moolah Theatre's single screen is one of the biggest in town, and cinephiles can take their pick of 400 stadium seats, plush leather couches, or balcony seating. Chase Park Plaza Cinemas—nestled inside the Chase Park Plaza Hotel building—boasts five auditoriums with luxury seating. Granite City Cinemas is brand-new with all digital projection. And exposed beams and stage lighting add a vintage touch to Galleria 6's lobby, while its bar provides a lovely backdrop for post-film discussions, screenplay pitches, or outbursts of hard-boiled dialogue and artfully lit cigarette smoke.
Since opening with a Frank Sinatra performance in 1990, the stadium now known as Times Union Center has seen more than 15 million guests pass through its turnstiles. That’s only slightly smaller than the population of the Netherlands and roughly equal to the number of people worldwide who enjoy candy corn. Besides attracting such entertainment titans as the Rolling Stones, U2, Disney’s “On Ice” series, and the Harlem Globetrotters, the multifunction arena is also home to the AHL’s Albany Devils and college basketball’s Siena Saints.