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 Southern California.
"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 Antonio, Texas.
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
Arena football depends on players whose professional prospects in
the NFL, the country's most popular sports league, never came to
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 Soul
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."
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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 Shumaker)
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