Posted: Sun Aug 21, 2016 7:58 pm Post subject: ArenaFan at ArenaBowl XXIX Travel Blog
Of all of the work that I do for the ArenaBowl, writing on this little blog thing is probably the most fun that I have. I go back and read the old ones every year just to see the blast that I had at venues across the country.
In case you want to see the history of the ArenaBowl travel blog...
Anywho, I'm about 12 hours from being on my way to LAX. No, I'm not lost, but I am turning my ArenaBowl venture to the West Coast into a bit of a baseball trip. The Padres are hosting the Cubs tomorrow night, and the Dodgers are hosting the Giants on Tuesday, and I'll be at both games repping my Tampa Bay Rays Joe Maddon jersey and my New Orleans VooDoo visor. (It's sort of become a bit of a joke that I "bring the VooDoo wherever I go for the AFL.)
For those of you who might not know, the reason I haven't been doing quite as much for ArenaFan for this ArenaBowl as in the past, it's because that work has been going over to the League site. I've had a blast with these interviews I've been doing. Ari Wolfe and Tina Cervasio have been my favorites of these interviews thus far.
Little known fact about Tina Cervasio... She met her husband while covering the New Jersey Red Dogs back in the late-90s. And what else was she doing while working with the Red Dogs? Interviewing Kevin Guy when he was both playing with and coaching the team. Most don't know that Guy's first head coaching gig was actually with New Jersey on an interim basis in 2000, eight years before he became head coach of the Rattlers. He went 1-3.
His one win? Over the Florida Bobcats. Coached by Dave Ewart. His current Defensive Coordinator. It's a small, small world out there folks.
Sorry that I didn't update this last night, folks. Didn't have internet access. So let's start with last night first.
Day 1: San Diego.
Cue up Ron Burgundy.
San Diego... The home of the af2's Riptide and, most recently, the 3-hour home of the LA KISS. I must admit, having done the drive back and forth from LA to San Diego now, if I had known that was the type of trip it was, I never would have done it. Three hours each way with hellacious traffic for seemingly no reason in both directions of the trip. There's no way this was a good idea for the KISS to do. Of course, calling the KISS a "Los Angeles team" is wrong in and of itself.... more on this when I discuss LA... but whether that drive was from Anaheim or from LA for most fans, it was a bastard of a trip.
Spent last night at Petco Park watching the de facto AAA Padres play against Joe Maddon's "Try To Not Suck" Cubs. The Cubs did not suck. The Padres did. Not that that mattered. What did matter? I was sitting next to a guy and was talking to him about arena football for a little while. He recognized my VooDoo hat (see below) and said, "Hey, is that that league that the Rattlers dominate?" Good on him for knowing that. Too bad he didn't know who the Riptide were.
Speaking of the Riptide.... God, what a shitty franchise that was in the af2. The Riptide played for four seasons in the Deuce, topping out at 8-8. They did draw alright, averaging 5,048 fans per game, and that's basically what the KISS had there for the playoff game at the same venue 11 years later. See, nothing's changed.
My favorite San Diego Riptide connection? Craig Whelihan was actually a member of the Riptide for a hot minute in 2005. That's uh... THIS Craig Whelihan.
Amazingly, anyone was OK with him playing football after that nine-turnover crap fest he had for Orlando in that game against Milwaukee.
So yeah, I had a good time talking with this Padres fan last night commiserating about Craig Whelihan, him from Wheels' days with the Chargers, and me for his days with the Predators.
All told, my stay in San Diego was only about 13 hours, and I was staying in a hotel where police sirens went off three times just outside of it in the middle of the night, and there were more homeless people just outside of the hotel than were probably guests inside of it.
Once again, the drive from San Diego to LA... no better than the drive from LA to San Diego. It's just awful, and I give credit to the fans who did it for the playoff game. You're better folks than I would have been had I known what I was getting into.
Los Angeles, as far as I'm concerned, has only ever had two AFL teams, the one which played at Staples Center (Avengers) and the one which played at LA Memorial Sports Arena (Cobras). The KISS? They're the second team Anaheim has ever had.
Though I will say that when I got off the airplane yesterday, I did immediately see a big picture of Simmons sticking his tongue out on the wall of the airport. Whatever that's worth.
Hollywood is alright. My task for the day was to find all of the stars of people related in some way to the AFL. I found three, though I'm sure there were more if you go back and really think about it.
1: Larry King. His nephew? Danny Southwick
2: KISS. Obvious.
3: Motley Crue. Front man Vince Neil screwed up the Vegas market horribly with the Outlaws.
So, another side story about the Outlaws. I was on a cruise ship a few weeks ago and was with a bunch of folks who love collecting art. We had the pleasure of meeting one of the artists, Michael Godard. Now, who is Michael Godard, you might ask? He's the man who designed the logo and did all of the team design for the Outlaws.
So he's talking to all of us about how he's done this image and that image and is known for painting olives and strawberries and all of this stupid crap, and I said to him, "And what about the Outlaws logo?"
He says, "The what?"
"The Las Vegas Outlaws logo."
"Oh, that crap I threw together for Vince? I told him that team was never going to work."
So here's a picture of the guy who designed the Las Vegas Outlaws logo.
Had a really nice time at Dodger Stadium tonight. Like the ballpark a lot.
Two AFL-related highlights. First off, met a guy from Phoenix who was in town and happened to be at the game. I told the guy I write for the AFL and will be covering the ArenaBowl, and that's why I'm out here. He responds by saying, "Oh yeah, the arena league. That's been around a while now I guess."
And when I told him I was headed to Glendale to cover the game, he said to me, "We have a team in Glendale?"
Talk about ignorance...
Then on the train on the way back to Hollywood, I was talking to a Dodger fan who lives in Pasadena who is retired from working at the LA Times. One of the many "forced into retirement" when things started to go haywire in print media... another story for another day... Anyway, I told her the same shtick about me covering the ArenaBowl, and she said, "Oh yeah, we used to have a team out here. I used to work with the Avengers a lot."
I asked whether she had ever heard of the KISS. The respond: "The band?" Had no idea that Anaheim had an AFL team.
Point of this... These teams locally obviously aren't doing a good enough job of getting the word out. One guy knows that the league exists and lives under a rock in respect to his own city or the fact that a championship game was going on there this weekend. The other knew that the Avengers existed and had no idea about the KISS.
Of course, this is a small sample set. Just a relatively depressing small sample set. This game needs better publicity to survive, and it needs it in a bad way.
In other news, I've got a really, really special interview lined up tomorrow I'm doing for the League. Can't spill the beans on it, but it's really good, and you'll love it. Then it's off to Phoenix to meet with the rest of the crew who will also be flying out in the morning.
That is an extremely small sample set, but, I think it is probably fairly representative of the AFL's issues.
Now, granted, L.A. is a HUGE market, and with the Avengers person, they were in media and "worked with the Avengers a lot"... that doesn't mean they would have cared about the Avengers if they weren't in media, or even cared about sports teams... who knows... maybe Adam can expand on the persons "profile" a bit more. The Phoenix person, obviously a sports fan, and "knows" of the AFL, but, obviously cares little about the Rattlers and isn't paying any attention.
Point is though, we live in our "AFL bubble"... and when you get outside of that bubble, you see how much most people, ney most local people, ney, most local sports fans, ney most local football fans.. are still able to go about their lives completely oblivious to the fact there is an AFL team in their town. _________________ Play FREE Online Trivia for Prizes, CLICK HERE!
I mentioned earlier that I was going to have a really special guest to interview this morning... Can't contain it any longer. Spoke with Ron Jaworski for about 10 minutes this morning, and that interview should be posted here in a couple hours on the league's site. There aren't many people I would wake up at 6:00 AM in Hollywood for to interview, but Jaws is one of them for sure.
The first thing I learned when we got to Glendale? University of Phoenix Stadium really does look like a UFO.
The second thing i learned in Arizona? The Diamondbacks and the Braves are awful.
After meeting up with Tim and Joe at the airport, we headed over to Chase Field to see the Diamondbacks and Braves square off in an ever important game to see which team will ultimately finish with the fewest wins in baseball. Arizona tried hard to blow the game, coughing up a 9-4 lead in the eighth and a 9-5 lead in the ninth, but 11 innings later, Arizona won 10-9 in a game which took nearly five freaking hours to finish.
Media Day is today, and we're pretty excited about it. Lots and lots to do for sure. Podcasting will take place this even after all of the festivities are said and done with, and be sure to catch Tim and I for our second ever Team USA vs. Team Canada AFL trivia game which we'll be playing at some point tonight when the serious work is done.
I hate the fact that they're cramming literally everything in terms of festivities into just two hours today, but it's hard to say that it wasn't expected in a year where the budget was so low and every resource is precious. It shouldn't take anything away from the game, though. We're looking forward to being inside of Gila River Arena for the first time in about five hours or so.
Media Day is in the books at ArenaBowl XXIX, and there really is a big buzz around about this game. I still personally don't see it, as I think this game is going to be a romp, but no one else really agrees with me. Most think Arizona is going to win it, but I really think it's never going to be close from the get go.
Anyway, more on that tomorrow.
I hate what the league did with Media Day and the awards banquet all at the same time. There was really no time for 1-on-1 interviews like we normally get, and the fact of the matter is that the players weren't really ready for interviews after sitting there at a banquet for basically three hours in a row.
The best interview of the day went to Jaws, as he used the time to talk about how great the AFL can become. He called previous owners of the league "turds," (wonder if he was lumping Jerry into that, too?) and he spoke a little bit about China.
There really wasn't any earth-shattering news. No news of expansion (or contraction for that matter), or anything of the sorts. The buzz around here is really strictly about the game, and that's really the way that it should be. It's so unlike the Kurz era where everything was about trying to make the league look great. The league doesn't need to look great. This should be a spectacle for the two teams on display, and that should do enough talking for the league as a whole.
Podcasting later. And then it's off to the ArenaBowl tomorrow.
Thinking about the Avengers for a moment. I know the rent at the Staples Center was steep. I thought I remember it being like 12K a game or something. Could be wrong. But, even still, that is really a six figure marketing expense. To have your games in that arena, to have your logo next to the Lakers, Kings, etc. To be in that scene. If you wanted to be "legit", that is where you need to be. You really need to see that rent the toll to be in the LA market.
Wrapping up pre-game coverage of ArenaBowl XXIX late into the night here in Room 307 of the Renaissance. It's been a fun night catching up with some friends from around the league and for the site. Not necessarily the most productive in the world, but we did wrap up our podcast and then played our second ever AFL Tonight Trivia Game. I'm no longer the defending champ.
Anywho, not a lot has changed around these parts. The players seem a little more loose than most years at the ArenaBowl, but I guess that's to be expected considering the fact that this is relatively old hat for Philadelphia and is incredibly old hat for Arizona. This should really be just another game for both sides, and I don't expect jitters to be a problem on either side.
It's game day! Not a lot to say about the atmosphere at this point. We're hungry and tired. Watch for all of our coverage of the game today. We're looking forward to taming this beast today and rewriting the record books and documenting it.
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