KISS Brings Arena Football Back to SoCal

New team backed by band members and Doc McGhee will play at Honda Center

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: August 21, 2013

Jerry Kurz, AFL Comissioner joins LA KISS' Brett Bouchy, KISS members Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and music manager Doc McGhee, Thursday to announce the formation of the AFL's 15th franchise.

The Arena Football League is returning to Southern California and this time it’s bringing some Hollywood star power with it.

Rock group KISS has teamed up with former Orlando Predators owner Brett Bouchy, and legendary music manager Doc McGhee to form the LA KISS, an AFL expansion team that will play at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Every aspect of the team will have a KISS tie-in, from the uniforms to the cheerleader outfits and half-time shows — and season ticket holders will even get access to a special KISS concert at Honda Center, planned for some time in 2014.

“Gene Simmons (bass-guitarist and co-lead vocalist for KISS) is a marketing genius who understands the power of licensing his brand. He currently has over 400 licenses” for everything from KISS posters and T-shirts, to collectibles, and even a bar and restaurant in Las Vegas," explained Bouchy. “But this deal for the AFL team is not a licensing agreement. They are actual investors with skin in the game."

The Thursday announcement came during a press conference following Saturday’s ArenaBowl XXVI Championship at the Amway Center in Orlando, which had the Arizona Rattlers beat the Philadelphia Soul 48-39 in front of 12,039 fans.

The League appears to be on the upswing just four years after the 2009 season was abruptly canceled, following a litany of bad news that included the folding of the AFL team, the New Orleans VooDoo.

“Owners recognize that, especially in light of the current unprecedented economic climate, the AFL, as a business enterprise, needs to be restructured if it is to continue to provide its unique brand of this affordable, fan-friendly sport,” wrote then Commissioner Ed Policy in a memo to the AFL’s board of directors explaining the cancelation decision.

In August of 2009, the league was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy by its creditors, and eventually converted to Chapter 11 bankruptcy by a judge. Through a series of complicated legal maneuvers, the AFL’s other league, af2, was first dissolved and then reconstituted as a new legal entity called Arena Football 1, with AFL former teams like the Arizona Rattlers and the Orlando Predators signing on for a second run. The former AFL’s assets were put on the auction block during the liquidation phase of its bankruptcy proceedings, and were subsequently purchased by the new league for $6.1 million. Those assets included all of the team names and logos for all the former AFL teams, except for the Dallas Desperados, which owner Jerry Jones was able to maintain control of.

In early 2010, Arena Football 1 announced it was changing its name to Arena Football League, and had inked new broadcast deals with both the NFL Network and later CBS Sports, and would launch two expansion teams — the Jacksonville (Fla.) Sharks and the Dallas Vigilantes, replacing the Desperados. The creation of the LA KISS now brings the number of teams in the league to 15.

Bouchy said he’s confident going forward that the AFL’s new labor contract with players will help keep costs from skyrocketing and will ensure a stable fiscal future. In June of last year, the League and the Arena Football League Players Union (AFLPU) signed a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, ending a public squabble that had resulted in mass firings, a player strike and the threat of a lockout.

“In professional sports there is a major flaw in that the average team pays 60 percent of its revenue to players and a super majority of teams end up losing money,” said Houchey. “The agreement we worked out is significantly lower than 60 percent and ensures we have a great economic model going forward.”

The AFL now seems poised for growth with efforts underway to develop a six-team league in China and talk of more American expansion to be announced, possibly this month.

Season tickets for the LA KISS have already gone on sale, with season tickets ranging from $2,250 to $99 per seat for the team’s 10 home games.

“At $99 a seat, that means fans will have the ability to see a two-and-a-half-hour full sensory experience for less than $10 per game,” Bouchy said, adding that his goal is to be one of the best sports/entertainment values in Southern California.

And despite his team’s Orange County origins, Bouchy is giving the squad a distinctly LA name — “that’s just marketing,” Bouchy said, adding that the use of the LA name — even in a region that prides itself on not being L.A. — invokes memories of the Los Angeles Avengers, an AFL Franchise that played their entire eight-season career (2000 to 2008) at Staples Center in LA.

“With a global brand in KISS, an ownership group dedicated to showcasing an exciting sport and a world-class venue serving as host - three great entertainment properties are converging with the overall goal of producing an unparalleled AFL experience for fans,” said Tim Ryan, President/CEO of Honda Center. “This partnership marks a new era for the unification of sports and music.”

Interviewed for this article: Brett Bouchy, (323) 761-7220; Tim Ryan, (714) 704-2412 

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: August 21, 2013