Seated outside the Honda Center arena in Anaheim, California,
the two sixty-somethings stayed true to their trademark self
assurance and bravado in their plan to turn an indoor version of
American football played on a smaller field with a heavy
emphasis on high scores into a top entertainment draw in
"We don't compete with anybody else. We set our own trail,"
Stanley told media assembled outside the arena, which is home to
hockey's Anaheim Ducks and only a few miles down the road from
Walt Disney Co's Disneyland theme park.
They aim to go where others have failed in a place with no
shortage of entertainment and recreation alternatives.
The LA Kiss will be the fourth attempt to establish a franchise
in either Los Angeles or nearby Anaheim since the league began
in 1987. The team begins their season on Saturday in San
Games will have a carnival-like atmosphere with elephants,
fire-breathers, stilt walkers, little people and go-go dancers.
"We are trailblazers, whether it's in rock and roll or now
football," added Stanley, who along with Simmons purchased the
franchise with two other investors last year. "There's no
rivalry because no one can rival us. We're going to stake our
claims and mark our territory."
LA Kiss will give the 14-team Arena Football League another shot
at making the sport stick in Southern California, the country's
second-largest sports market, which has not had an NFL franchise
in 20 years.
Arena football depends on players whose professional prospects
in the NFL, the country's most popular sports league, never came
Simmons, 64, and Stanley, 62, form half of Kiss, one of the
top-selling rock groups of the past 40 years best known for
their white-and-black face paint, garish costumes, and songs
like party anthem "Rock and Roll All Nite" and ballad "Beth."
"ENTERTAINMENT," NOT SPORT
They are not the first rock and roll owners in arena football.
Jon Bon Jovi of Bon Jovi is a former owner of the Philadelphia
[to top of second column]
The league has made concerted efforts to court consumers in small
and mid-markets such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Spokane, Washington,
so far passing on renewing its past bets in competitive places like
New York and Boston.
"There's no reason that we won't deliver exactly what we said we
would," Simmons said. "Anyone else who has failed in the past may
have tried valiantly, but trying isn't good enough."
The last franchise in the region, Los Angeles Avengers, folded in
2008 after nine seasons when the financially struggling league
canceled its 2009 season.
"It's a fair way down the sports or economic food chain," Allen
Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago, said about the
league. "I think one should probably look at it as more of a hobby
than an investment."
But franchise co-owner Brett Bouchy is steadfast that the LA Kiss
should be viewed as an entertainment brand rather than a sports
franchise like the NFL.
"We're going the other way. ... We are trying to differentiate
ourselves from everything else out there in sports," he said.
LA Kiss will be able to seat about 15,000 people at the Honda
Center, and Bouchy said the team has already been able to sell more
than 7,000 season ticket packages with a goal of reaching 10,000
before the team's first home game on April 5.
But the franchise's marketing plan has its own inherent risks as
well, said Keith Willoughby, a business professor at the University
of Saskatchewan, drawing a comparison with the failed XFL football
league that attempted to fuse the sport together with the
over-the-top sensibility of pro wrestling.
"The challenge the XFL ran into was that it wasn't football enough
for the football fan and it wasn't entertainment enough for the
wrestling fan," he said. "You're trying to straddle two different
cultural markets, and the inability to do both is a recipe for
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Lisa
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