Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1990-1992 Illinois Thunder

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Illinois ThunderNational Professional Soccer League (1990-1992)

Born: March 13, 1990 – AISA expansion franchise.
Died: September 1, 1992 – The Thunder relocate to Denver, CO.

Arena: Rockford MetroCentre

Team Colors:

Owner: Mike Kelegian

 

The Illinois Thunder were a short-lived, poorly attended indoor soccer franchise based at the Rockford MetroCentre for two seasons from 1990 to 1992.  The Thunder began life as an expansion franchise in the American Indoor Soccer Association in March 1990, but the league changed its name to the National Professional Soccer League by the time the Thunder kicked their first ball in November of the same year.

The Thunder shared the MetroCentre during the winter months with the more popular Rockford Lightning of the Continental Basketball Association.  Local real estate executive Mike Kelegian founded the team as an expansion franchise in early 1990. Former Chicago Sting star Heinz Wirtz served as Head Coach.  The Thunder had an in-state rival in the NPSL – the Chicago Power – who were coached by another former Sting star, Karl-Heinz-Granitza.

During the Thunder’s second season in the winter of 1991-1992, the club had the worst attendance in the nine-team NPSL, claiming only 1,613 fans per game for a 20-match calendar.  In September 1992, Kelegian moved his franchise to Colorado where the team was known as the Denver Thunder.

Kelegian ran out of money and stopped meeting payroll within weeks of his arrival in Denver.  The former Illinois Thunder wobbled through its one and only season in Denver as a ward of the league before folding quietly in 1993.

Indoor soccer returned to soccer two decades later when the Rockford Rampage (2008-2010) played two seasons at the MetroCentre to equally meager crowds.

 

==Illinois Thunder Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1990-91
1990-91 11/25/1990 @ Chicago Power ?? Program Game Notes
1990-91 12/15/1990 vs. Canton Invaders L 12-10 (OT) Program

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Thunder owner Mike Kelegian passed away in July 2001 at age 65.

 

==Links==

National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs

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