ORLANDO, FL -- The Spokane Shock are preparing for the addition of a new rival in the AFL's West Division. The league announced on Thursday that it had awarded an expansion franchise to a Los Angeles-based ownership group led by KISS band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
"This thing is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive," Simmons said of the Arena Football League. "Superman, eat your heart out."
The team, to be called the L.A. KISS, will begin play in March at Anaheim's Honda Center, marking the return of professional football to Los Angeles. The nation's second-largest metropolitan area had lost the NFL's Raiders and Rams to relocation, and saw the AFL's Avengers fold in 2009. Simmons, known for his long tongue and piercing licks on guitar, says fans can expect plenty of celebrity sightings at KISS games.
"We're not just going to be there, we're going to bring our families and friends," said Simmons. "You'll see other celebrities there, too."
Stanley, KISS's frontman, knows that fans won't be there just to see L.A. celebrities. They also want to see an entertaining product at a reasonable price. The team is offering a season ticket package at $99 that will include a free KISS concert.
"That's what we want to do, bring sports back to the people," said Stanley. "Back to families. Make it like it used to be. Something you can do without mortgaging your house or your car."
As for any impact on the Spokane Shock, CEO Brady Nelson is all for it. Nelson was enthusiastic by phone in Orlando, where he is attending league meetings this week.
"The addition of the LA KISS will bring more positive exposure to the AFL than we've had in a long time," said Brady, who was attending a private concert performance by KISS Thursday evening, in advance of Saturday's Arena Bowl XXVI between Arizona and Philadelphia. "The AFL and Spokane Shock couldn't be more excited."
Nelson confirmed to SWX that he expected the L.A. franchise to join the Shock in the West Division.