In 1987, it was speculated that the Phoenix, Arizona, area would be a target for the newly formed Arena Football League (AFL).
On September 11, 1991, it was announced that Jerry Colangelo had been awarded an expansion franchise in the AFL in Phoenix. Colangelo, owner of the NBA's Phoenix Suns, first approached Frank Kush to coach his team, but Kush declined the invitation. In October 1991, the team announced that former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White would be the franchise's first head coach. In December 1991, the team announced that they would be named the Arizona Rattlers after more than 250 people suggested that the team's nickname should be the Rattlers, while 55% of their responders picked "Arizona" over "Phoenix".
In 1992, the Rattlers began with their first two games on the road, and won their home debut in front of a sell-out crowd of 15,505 at America West Arena by a score of 56–31 over the Sacramento Attack.
In 1994, the Rattlers captured their first ArenaBowl championship, with a 36–31 victory over the Orlando Predators.
In December 1999, Gene Nudo, White and Will Meris pursued the purchase of the Rattlers from Colangelo.
In 2008, it was announced that Brett Bouchy would become the new owner of the Arizona Rattlers. After the Rattlers had a 4–12 record in 2007, Brett Bouchy hired Kevin Guy as the new Arizona Rattlers head coach in the 2008 season and the Rattlers improved to an 8–8 record and cliched playoff berth for the first time since 2006, but lost in the first round. In August 2009, numerous media outlets began reporting that the AFL was folding permanently and would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The league released a statement on August 4 to the effect that while the league was not folding, it was suspending league operations indefinitely. Despite this, several of the league's creditors filed papers to force a Chapter 7 liquidation if the league did not do so voluntarily. This request was granted on August 7, though converted to a Chapter 11 reorganization on August 26. However Brett Bouchy and a group of investors planned to launch a new league called Arena Football 1 and helped the Arizona Rattlers and the Orlando Predators to become two of the four teams to survive and return in 2010 with Arena Football 1. In early 2010, it was announced that Arena Football 1 was granted the trademarks to the AFL brand and was renamed the Arena Football League. In 2011, after Brett Bouchy was able keep both the Arizona Rattlers and the Orlando Predators alive, he was forced to let go of ownership to one of the teams and that became the Arizona Rattlers.
On May 12, 2011, Ron Shurts became the new majority owner of the Rattlers franchise.
In 2011, the Rattlers won 16 games in the regular season, a league-record for wins in a single regular season. In the playoffs, by winning the National Conference championship, they clinched a berth in ArenaBowl XXIV. They lost the game to the Jacksonville Sharks when Jacksonville quarterback Aaron Garcia threw a game-winning touchdown pass on the game's final play. The Rattlers redeemed themselves the following season, winning ArenaBowl XXV over the Philadelphia Soul to win their first title in 15 years.
In 2013, the Rattlers and Soul met again in ArenaBowl XXVI, with the Rattlers winning yet again, 48-39. This made them the first team since 1995 to win back-to-back championships, and the first team in history to beat the same team for both titles.
In 2014, the Rattlers went 15–3 in the regular season after a 14-game winning streak to start the season, and defeated the Cleveland Gladiators in ArenaBowl XXVII by a score of 72–32, becoming the first team in AFL history to win three consecutive AFL championships since the Detroit Drive of 1988–1990, as well as establishing the largest margin of victory (40 points) in an ArenaBowl.
In 2015, the Rattlers went 14-4 in the regular season and made it to the Conference Championships but lost to the San Jose Sabercats 70-67, a team which had twice beaten them in the regular season. This ended their streak of consecutive ArenaBowl appearances at four.
In 2016, the Rattlers went 13-3 in the regular season, then blew out the Portland Steel and the Cleveland Gladiators en route to their fifth ArenaBowl appearance in six years, only to lose to the Philadelphia Soul.
On October 17, 2016, the Rattlers announced it had left the AFL and joined the Indoor Football League for the 2017 season. They made their IFL debut on February 17, 2017, at the defending six-time IFL Champions Sioux Falls Storm, but lost 40-29.
The following Rattlers players have been named to All-Arena Teams:QB Sherdrick Bonner (5), Nick Davila (5)
FB Odie Armstrong (2), Mykel Benson (1)
FB/LB Bob McMillen (2)
WR Rod Windsor (6), Maurice Purify (1)
WR/DB Cedric Tillman (1), Randy Gatewood (6)
WR/LB Hunkie Cooper (4)
OL Kyle Young (2), Brennen Carvalho (1), Michael Huey (3), Billy Eisenhardt (1), Jordan Mudge (1)
DL Anttaj Hawthorne (2), Clifford Dukes (1), Mike McAdoo (1), Damien Borel (1), Dimetrio Tyson (1)
OL/DL Doc Wise (1), Bryan Henderson (1)
LB Tyre Glasper (3)
DB Virgil Gray (2), Arkeith Brown (2), Marquis Floyd (1), Jeremy Kellem (1)
K Fabrizio Scaccia (1), Garrett Lindholm (1)
OS Hunkie Cooper (2), Calvin Schexnayder (2), Chris Horn (1)
DS Cecil Doggette (1)
KR Virgil Gray (1)
The following Rattlers players have been named to All-Ironman Teams:WR/DB Randy Gatewood (2)
WR/LB Hunkie Cooper (3)
OL/DL Stacy Evans (1), Wendall Gaines (2)
The following Rattlers players have been named to All-Rookie Teams:QB Chad May
WR Tandon Harvey
WR/LB Chris Horn
OL/DL Stacy Evans, Wendall Gaines, Bryan Henderson
Note: Statistics are correct through Week 2 of the 2017 Indoor Football League season.
The Arizona Rattlers introduced Ron Shurts as the team’s new majority owner on May 12, 2011.
"I have been an Arizona Rattlers season ticket holder since day one and attended the first Arizona Rattlers game at America West Arena. I believe in the team and the Arena Football League," said Shurts. "I want to bring the passion and excitement for Rattlers football back to US Airways Center and the Valley."
"Downtown Phoenix continues to grow and the Rattlers will be an integral part of the affordable, family-fun entertainment that the Suns and the Mercury are providing the local community," Shurts added.
The Very first broadcaster of the Rattlers was KUTP UPN-45. They would televise home & away games, whichever games were not picked up by ESPN, to include playoff games.
KASW-TV WB6 WB61 took over broadcasting the Rattlers.
Starting in the 2004 season, the Arizona Rattlers partnered with Fox Sports Arizona. That 1st season, they televised 4 games. When the 2005 season came, the Arena football league announced a partnership with Fox Sports Regional to televise games regionally. In addition, the Arizona Rattlers announced they would also produce games with Fox Sports Arizona separate from the League contract.
After the cancellation of the 2009 season and return of the Arena Football League. The Arizona Rattlers announced a new broadcast deal with KAZT-TV AZTV 7 to broadcast up to eight games of the 2010 season. The partnership ended after one season after KAZT would not renew their broadcast partnership with the Rattlers in the 2011 season.
After major changes of ownership throughout the 2011 season the Arizona Rattlers announced a new broadcast deal in mid season to return to Fox Sports Arizona with some games carried on Fox Sports Arizona Plus.
As the 2012 season approached the Arizona Rattlers would again announced that they would be moving their broadcasts to a new home this time to Cox7 Arizona with longtime Arizona sports caster Kevin Ray and Dale Hellestrae calling the game in the booth with Chris Harris on the sidelines and Lindsay Smith on Social Media. Cox7 was known as the Rattlers best broadcaster by televising all nine of their home games including selected away games that were simulcasted to other teams broadcasts. Cox7 also did Pregame Shows with the Rattlers before every home game showing documentaries and Talking LIVE before the game. The Partnership became a major success for Cox7 the Arizona Rattlers later extended their contract with Cox7 through the 2014 season when the announcement was made in November 2012.
After the major success with Cox7 Arizona, the Rattlers would not renew with the station after their contract expired in the 2014 season and announced they would move their broadcasts back to Fox Sports Arizona with broadcasting up to only three home games and one playoff game on Fox Sports Arizona Plus. However the Rattlers still carried over the same broadcast team from Cox7 Arizona with Kevin Ray, Dale Hellestrae, and Chris Harris calling the game. The Rattlers were also seen on National broadcasts on ESPN2 and CBS Sports Network until 2016 when they left the AFL.
All Indoor Football League games are streamed live on YouTube