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Arena football tossed to KC


Ez Street

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By RANDY COVITZ

The Kansas City Star

?Kansas City is getting the core of what was a pretty good team.?

Arena League commissioner David Baker

Kansas City will have an Arena Football League franchise this winter after all.

The Arena League has granted the city an expansion franchise beginning with the 2006 season. The club will be stocked with 15 players who are under contract with the New Orleans VooDoo, which will not operate next season because of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, including damage to the New Orleans Arena.

The franchise, owned by K.C. Arena Sports and Entertainment, signed a two-year lease to play at Kemper Arena when the season begins in late January. Earlier this year, Tyler Prochnow of K.C. Arena Sports and Entertainment, had been unable to secure an expansion franchise because of difficulties in working out a lease for the Sprint Center, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2007.

But the availability of Kemper Arena, and the extenuating circumstances of the VooDoo, hastened Kansas City?s admission into the 18-team Arena League.

The VooDoo is owned by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who will retain the rights to the franchise, nickname and colors. A news conference is expected this week, when the organization will introduce staff members and its ?name the team? contest. The team has established a Web site at www. arenafootballkc.com, where deposits for tickets can be made.

?This is such a great opportunity for the people of Kansas City,? said Prochnow, whose ownership group, which includes former Chiefs star and New Orleans native Neil Smith, paid a $16 million expansion fee. ?We feel great we were able to step in and help not only those players but give the people of New Orleans their team to root for.

?It will be the Kansas City team, but we will certainly reach out to them and make sure it?s still their team, too, and welcome their support as they follow us throughout the year.?

Former Chiefs safety Kevin Porter, who had served as defensive coordinator for the VooDoo, is expected to be the head coach. Mike Neu, the VooDoo head coach who led the club to a 9-7 record last year, will remain with the New Orleans franchise.

The club?s best-known player is quarterback Andy Kelly, the Arena League?s all-time leading passer who threw a league-high 96 touchdown passes last season. The game?s smaller field makes for a high-scoring game.

?This is not the way we planned it, but it is the result of a lot of good people who are excited about arena football being in Kansas City,? Arena League commissioner David Baker said Monday.

?Originally, we were going to have Tyler Prochnow?s group approved for 2007, but because of these unusual circumstances involving Hurricane Katrina, they were willing to step up early. The city helped with Kemper Arena and the lease.

?This is a bittersweet experience for Tom Benson and the New Orleans Saints, who are going through a lot. In some respects, I?m sure for Tom this was like putting children up for adoption. You need to know he was very positive on Kansas City as a market and having his players go there.?

Baker said a lease at the Sprint Center was not a requirement for Kansas City at this time. The league was impressed by the groundwork Prochnow?s group had done in setting up a Web site and attracting sponsorships and season ticket requests before it had a franchise.

?They could certainly launch it at Kemper,? Baker said, ?and if all goes well with the (new) arena, they can have a second launch.?

Larry Hovick, general manager for Global Spectrum, which manages Kemper Arena, was delighted with his new tenant.

?This is a football town and a major-league town, and this is an AFL major-league tenant,? Hovick said.

Michael Roth, vice president if communications for Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will manage the Sprint Center, said, ?We are hopeful of negotiating and entering into an agreement for the team to play in the Sprint Center.?

The Arena League, founded in 1987, averaged a record 12,872 spectators per game last season, the fourth consecutive year it posted an increase in attendance. It has a national television contract with NBC. Prochnow said the average ticket price would be about $26, with most seats priced at less than $40.

The league added an expansion franchise in Utah for next season and stocked that club through a dispersal draft.

?Kansas City is getting the core of what was a pretty good team,? Baker said.

?This is not your basic expansion team. The guys from Utah could have tried to take advantage of the situation and said there should be a dispersal draft, but they really wanted the best for New Orleans and the best for Kansas City, and they voted for this.?

Each team carries a 24-man roster, with 20 active for each game. The Kansas City team can complete its roster during the free-agency period, which begins today.

?We?re honored that Mr. Benson and the VooDoo organization would entrust us with their team,? Prochnow said.

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The VooDoo is owned by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who will retain the rights to the franchise, nickname and colors. A news conference is expected this week, when the organization will introduce staff members and its ?name the team? contest. The team has established a Web site at www. arenafootballkc.com, where deposits for tickets can be made.

I hope they name it KC "We're building pro facilities hoping we get someone to come here"...

:D

Seriously though, I agree with Astrobull on this one, great move by the league to have this team relocated instead of disbanded. I think KC will be a great city for the AFL, plus it'll probably be a test for other pro sports before they decide to award franchises there.

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What about the name? I think I'll enter a name in the contest. Here's my list:

-Bobcats

-Pit Bulls

-Renegades

-Toros

-Stampede

I like "Pit Bulls" the best. Can't decide on the colors, though.

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Actually, the VooDoo had to suspend operations for the 2006 AFL season because the New Orleans Arena was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and they couldn't find a good temporary home to play their home games. Fortunately in 2007, they'll be back in the AFL, bumping the league up to 19 teams (or maybe even 20 with the addition of another expansion franchise, probably in Washington, DC, or Boston).

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Will the VooDoo get their players back in 07?

I doubt it. Since their operations have been suspended, let's hope they don't turn into another Milwaukee Mustangs.

Streeter - Congrats on getting your AFL team a year earlier than anticipated!

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Will the VooDoo get their players back in 07?

I doubt it. Since their operations have been suspended, let's hope they don't turn into another Milwaukee Mustangs.

Streeter - Congrats on getting your AFL team a year earlier than anticipated!

what about the Mustangs....I am a big fan of AFL and dont have a clue what you mean

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The Commish said that the VooDoo would be an expansion team when they come back.

This is an unbelievable oppritunuty for KC. This is way better than an expansion team. They can compete right away.

Although they will be playing in the Southern Division. Man, that's a tough division.

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Will the VooDoo get their players back in 07?

I doubt it. Since their operations have been suspended, let's hope they don't turn into another Milwaukee Mustangs.

Streeter - Congrats on getting your AFL team a year earlier than anticipated!

what about the Mustangs....I am a big fan of AFL and dont have a clue what you mean

The Milwaukee Mustangs suspended operations after the 2001 season because of proposed renovations that would have temporarily closed the Bradley Center for any sporting events. Alas, that never happened, and the Mustangs remain dormant to this day (if they even still exist)...

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Will the VooDoo get their players back in 07?

I doubt it. Since their operations have been suspended, let's hope they don't turn into another Milwaukee Mustangs.

Streeter - Congrats on getting your AFL team a year earlier than anticipated!

what about the Mustangs....I am a big fan of AFL and dont have a clue what you mean

The Milwaukee Mustangs suspended operations after the 2001 season because of proposed renovations that would have temporarily closed the Bradley Center for any sporting events. Alas, that never happened, and the Mustangs remain dormant to this day (if they even still exist)...

And to make matters worse, the Valozzis still own the rights to the Milwaukee Mustangs and their market. The Valozzis are as highly regarded in AFL circles as James Craven is around here.

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Looks like I'll be making at least one road trip to KC next spring. It'll have been 10 years since the Stampede left STL by then and I'm way overdue for my Arenaball fix.

Streeter, get the tix and KCScout, man the pits - Kansas City, here I come!

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Looks like I'll be making at least one road trip to KC next spring. It'll have been 10 years since the Stampede left STL by then and I'm way overdue for my Arenaball fix.

Streeter, get the tix and KCScout, man the pits - Kansas City, here I come!

Scout and I will have to hold you to that promise.

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