KISS, nearing its 40th anniversary, prides itself on appealing to rock-and-roll fans from every strata of society – provided they enjoy anthemic arena rock and elaborate live shows performed by men in heavy makeup and shoulder pads.
Founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley hope to establish a similarly broad fanbase with their newest project, a partnership with the Arena Football League as owners of an Anaheim-based expansion team known as LA KISS.
“The whole idea of an alternative to what has perhaps become a corporate sport is very intriguing, and resonates with us,” Stanley told USA TODAY Sports by phone on Wednesday. “We’ve always tried to be a band that relates to everybody, and the AFL is built on that whole premise.”
Los Angeles has not seen professional football since two previous AFL franchises folded before the league canceled its 2009 season. Both Los Angeles-based NFL teams left the city after the 1994 season. KISS will run the team in conjunction with veteran AFL executive Brett Bouchy, who recently sold his interest in the Orlando Predators.
“We don’t want to wear too many hats,” Stanley said. “When it’s appropriate, we will defer to the people who have experience with this. We’re bringing something new to the party.”
“We’re not going to be passive players in this,” Simmons added. “We’re really going to be a part of this thing.”
KISS will perform the halftime show for the league’s championship game, ArenaBowl XXVI, in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday. And though its members did not commit to playing regularly at LA KISS games, Stanley said he planned to attend home games with his family “as a point of pride.”
Asked if the new AFL owners will endorse their team’s players wearing eye-black and face paint indoors, Stanley said, “We’ll leave that to the people who are better suited to make those decisions. But I personally think a little black under the eye looks very good.”
The team will sell season-ticket packages starting at $99, and Stanley and Simmons hope that with their expertise, the club’s games will emerge as a low-cost alternative to other live sporting events in the area.
“It’s exciting beyond anything that we’ve thought about before, to be given the privilege of really starting out bringing the amount of showmanship we brought to a rock band called KISS,” Simmons said. “It’s going to be that kind of in-your-face entertainment, whether you’re a football fan or not.”