One man's dumpoff is another mans treasure
It is always an unfortunate situation when any professional team has to relocate. For many reasons, inclement weather or other dire constraints puts a lot of pressure on the host team to have a game. This holds the most crucial in football because of such a short schedule.
Of course in Arena Football, it is not uncommon for that to happen. Last season the San Jose Sabercats had their fair share of relocating their historic playoff run to Stockton up to the Arena Bowl. In other instances, during the NBA and NHL playoffs this forces the lower tier tenants to reschedule. However, in this instance with the Portland Trailblazers playing games 3 and 4 of their Western Conference Semifinal against Golden State last Saturday and Monday, it just seemed impossible to host their last home game.
It then though became a blessing in disguise for an LA KISS team that has been last in attendance through their first two home games. So what better way to promote their product than to absorb the game Portland should have had at home and instead hand out free tickets to the general public?
A season high 9,000 plus headed to the Honda Center on a Monday night. This though was not your typical fair weather fan base that just wanted to catch a game. Ignore the hype and excitement that the game gave out when the KISS took over in the final 15 minutes, where three pick 6’s blew the game out. 9,000 plus knew what the game was all about, cheering at every big time hit and tackle over the wall. No fan complained when Donovan Morgan’s catch was deflected off the wall and ended up in Portland’s hands in the end zone. These were real Arena Football fans, scattered with KISS and even Los Angeles Avenger jerseys. It had to take this game to quite possibly wake up the idea that this team really needed this game to make a name for themselves.
“These fans were great all night long,” KISS CEO Joe Windham said. “The crowd was more than into the game, and with such a high level of energy, I just knew that these weren’t just fans that wanted to come out and check out a game on such short notice. These fans seemed to know what this game was all about.”
Years ago when the Los Angeles Avengers took over Staples Center, they left in their final season as one of the teams with one of the highest attendance. Nowadays, it is rather hard for a newer market for an AFL team to crack over 10,000. The KISS managed to pull that off in their first year, but there was never any profit as most of the games were dumped on meaningless entertainment. It has been a rather tough road for the new head man to bring back that kind of buzz in really a town that doesn’t respond unless they start winning. But look at how things are mapping out in Anaheim right now. Their tenants next door, the Los Angeles Angels, have had their share of bad luck recently. Losing one of their prime pitcher in their starting rotation has begun a massive freefall in the standings. They have currently lost four in a row and seven of their last 11, and it could be a matter of time before they fall last in the AL West, nowhere to be found. With really nothing else going on in the summer, taking advantage of one team losing its mojo, let alone noticeable improvement on the football field, could be a great benefit.
It always helps when you win a game. Head coach Omarr Smith knows the importance of taking things one day at a time, which is the right approach as the season reaches its midpoint.
“For me, it is hard to see things one game at a time,” Smith said. “I have to take things one day at time. We are all still trying to grow with so many new faces trying to learn the game. We have the talent, but it will take a lot of time to show everyone what we are made of,”
Monday night could not have been scripted any better. Who knows what could happen if they somehow find a way to leave Arizona after their bye week with a victory, and what it could possibly mean for the franchise.