The Arena Football League made headlines on Thursday, announcing the addition of an expansion team called the Los Angeles KISS. Named after the band that bought a stake in the franchise, the team will play at the Honda Center in Anaheim, home of the Anaheim Ducks. Adding some credibility with a high-profile ownership group, the announcement that comes just two days before the ArenaBowl in Orlando seemed to be a new high point for the league since the 2009 season was cancelled.
Unfortunately, the league appears to be simply replacing its incumbent largest market, as an ArenaFan.com report suggests that the league will be announcing an additional expansion franchise in Portland, Oregon and that the Chicago Rush are no more.
The league maintains it headquarters in Chicago, but the franchise that on multiple occasions finished seasons with higher average attendances than the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Fire prior to the 2009 season cancellation will not play in the league’s 2014 season. The team had battled ownership problems, being sold to an ownership group over the off-season that turned out not to have sufficient funds or investors. It was later sold to a convicted criminal currently facing multiple lawsuits before being taken over by the league.
Evicted from the Allstate Arena in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont during the season, the team finished its season in Rockford and surrendered rights to host its final home game to San Jose. Due to the stadium issues, its playoff game against Spokane was played on the road despite the Rush having won their division.
It had been widely reported that New York would be joining the league in 2014, but its had been announced that there would be only two expansion teams. The league very well could be missing out on the New York market as well unless the Rush are relocating to either Portland or New York rather than folding.
There is hope that the team could return in the future, as Philadelphia Soul minority owner stated “No, there will not be a Chicago franchise in the AFL in 2014… Although I would be highly optimistic that a team will once again return in the near future.”