Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Kemper Arena’ tag

1972-1985 Kansas City-Omaha Kings / Kansas City Kings

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Kansas City-Omaha KingsNational Basketball Association (1972-1985)

Born: 1972 – The Cincinnati Royals relocate to Kansas City & Omaha.
Moved: 1985 (Sacramento Kings)


Team Colors:


NBA Championships: None


The Kansas City Kings were a middling NBA franchise that had just four winning seasons during thirteen years in town. The club arrived in 1972 as the relocated Cincinnati Royals. Since Kansas City already had the Royals baseball team, the team re-branded itself as the Kings. At first, the franchise split its time between Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium and the Omaha Civic Auditorium, 180 miles to the north in Nebraska. The team was formally known as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings from 1972 until 1975.

The Kings moved into the brand-new Kemper Arena in downtown Kansas City in 1974. For the 1975-76 season, the Kings abandoned their Omaha games and settled in at Kemper full-time.

The team’s best seasons came during the tenure of head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Fitzsimmons was named the NBA’s Coach-of-the-Year in 1979 as the Kings enjoyed their best season by record (48-34) and won their only division chamionships. The Kings made the playoffs four times in Fitzsimmons’ six seasons between 1978 and 1984. The franchise’s finest hour in Kansas City came during the 1981 playoffs. Despite entering the postseason as a 6th seed with a losing regular season record, the Kings knocked off the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and advanced to the Western Conference finals. They lost the semi-finals to the Houston Rockets in five games.

Off the court, the Kings continued to flounder as the 1970’s turned to the 1980’s.

Kansas City KingzIn June 1979, the roof at the five year-old Kemper Arena partially collapsed during a wind storm. Kemper was closed for 10 months and the Kings were forced to play most of the 1979-80 season back at tiny old Municipal Auditorium.

In the fall of 1981 the Kansas City Comets of the Major Indoor Soccer League set up shop at Kemper Arena. Playing a winter season that mirrored the NBA’s calendar, the Comets walloped the Kings at the box office. During the inaugural season in 1981-82, the Comets averaged 11,508 fans per game at Kemper. The Kings’ average was a paltry 6,644.  Year later, Kings’ coach Cotton Fitzsimmons was moved to comment on the Comets’ impact:

“Here’s something that’s not even a game,” said Fitzsimmons, quoted in The Houston Chronicle in April 1985. “They make up the rules as they go along.  But they’ve marketed aggressively and they’ve taken Kansas City by storm.”

Tragedy struck on the eve of the 1982-83 season. Forward Bill Robinzine, the Kings’ top draft pick in 1975 and a solid defender for Kansas City’s late ’70’s squads, committed suicide at age 29. Robinson last played for Kansas City in 1980. He was out of basketball at the time, hoping to land an overseas contract in Europe.

In June of 1983 a Sacramento-based group purchased the Kings from the team’s local ownership for a reported $10.5 million. The new group, fronted by Gregg Lukenbill, made little secret of their desire to relocate the Kings to California’s capital once the team’s Kemper Arena lease expired in 1985. The new owners made it official in January 1985, announcing the team would leave Kansas City at the end of the 1984-85 campaign. Barry Petchesky at Deadspin has an excellent account of the Kings’ final days as the team maneuvered itself out of town.


Kansas City Kings Memorabilia


Kings Video


In Memoriam

Power forward Bill Robinzine (Kings ’75-’80) committed suicide on September 16, 1982 at the age of 29.

Owner Leon Karosen (Kings ’73-’83) passed away on May 10, 1990 at age 73.

Head Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons (Kings ’78-’84) died of lung cancer on July 24, 2004. Fitzsimmons was 72. New York Times obituary.

Center Sam Lacey (Kings ’72-’81) died on March 14, 2014 at 66 years of age. New York Times obituary.



2006-2008 Kansas City Brigade

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Kansas City BrigadeArena Football League (2006-2008)

Born: October 3, 2005 – Arena Football League expansion franchise
Folded: August 2009


Team Colors:


Arena Bowl Championships: None


The Kansas City Brigade were the first of several attempts to establish the sport of Arena Football in Kansas City. Former Kansas City Chiefs star Neil Smith and his agent Tyler Prochnow were the team’s original investors.  They bought into the Arena Football League for a reported $16M – $18M in October 2005.  The duo’s expansion bid appeared stalled during the summer of 2005. But then Hurricane Katrina struck and devastated New Orleans. The AFL’s popular New Orleans Voodoo club would be unable to participate in the 2006 season as the city rebuilt. The disaster gave the AFL expansion committee new urgency to get a deal done with Prochnow and Smith. Kansas City was announced as the AFL’s 18th city in October 2005. The league stocked Kansas City’s roster with 15 refugee players from the homeless Voodoo franchise.

The club announced it’s name and logo a month later in November 2005. Going for a military theme, the team oddly misfired by pairing an Air Force-derived stealth bomber logo with a team name

Within a matter of months Prochnow brought local mortgage baron Chris Likens into the ownership group. Over the course of the next year, Likens would assume control of the franchise. Prochnow’s original group departed and Likens installed various relatives into what became effectively a family-run business.

Neil Smith’s former Chiefs teammate Kevin Porter was installed as Head Coach. The Brigade’s debut season in 2006 was brutal on the field. Voodoo holdover Andy Kelly struggled at quarterback and the Brigade shipped him out midseason. The position never solidified, contributing to a 3-13 last place finish. The team was a popular draw at Kemper Arena though. Announced attendance of 15,234 per game for eight home dates was third best in the 18-team AFL.

The 2007 season saw a dramatic turnaround. Porter returned for another season at the helm. The Brigade finished 10-6 and earned their first and only postseason appearance. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Colorado Crush. But the novelty of Arena Football appeared to wear thin in Kansas City. Attendance dipped 24% to 11,632 per game.

In 2008, the Brigade left Kemper Arena and moved into the brand new 17,000-seat Sprint Center. The team reverted to its expansion season form and lost its first six game en route to a 3-13 season.  The franchise earned a bit of national media attention late in the season by signing former Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Quincy Carter. Carter started the final three games of the season for the Brigade.

The Arena Football League collapsed suspended operations following the 2008 season and later filed for bankruptcy in August 2009. A low-budget spinoff of the league re-emerged in 2010 and gradually lured back a few of the original AFL’s former owners. The Likens family revived the Brigade in 2011 with a slight re-branding “Kansas City Command”). The Command played to paltry crowds at the Sprint Center for two more seasons before shutting down for good in 2012.



Kansas City Brigade Video

Short highlight reel from the Brigade’s 2006 debut season at Kemper Arena



Arena Football League Media Guides

Arena Football League Programs



Written by Drew Crossley

November 15th, 2017 at 12:28 am

1990-2001 Kansas City Blades

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1996-97 Kansas City Blades YearbookInternational Hockey League (1990-2001)

Born: February 26, 1990 – The Toledo Goaldiggers relocate to Kansas City
Folded: June 4, 2001

Arena: Kemper Arena (15,771)

Team Colors: Red, Black & Silver


Turner Cup Champions: 1992


Text coming soon…


Kansas City Blades Memorabilia


Kansas City Blades Video

The Blades vs. the Denver Grizzlies. Game 4 of the 1995 Turner Cup finals at Kemper Arena.



International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs



Written by Drew Crossley

January 8th, 2017 at 4:39 pm

1991-2001 Kansas City Attack

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National Professional Soccer League (1991-2001)

Born: September 4, 1991 – The Atlanta Attack relocate to Kansas City, MO.
Re-Branded: 2001 (Kansas City Comets)


Team Colors:

  • 1998-99: Black, Green & Silver



During the 1980’s Kansas City, Missouri was a hotspot for the growing sport of indoor soccer.  The local Major Indoor Soccer League franchise, the Kansas City Comets, was so popular in the early part of the decade that they helped to drive the NBA’s Kansas City Kings out of town in 1985.  The departure of the Kings and the lack of an NHL franchise made the Comets the only wintertime pro sports ticket in town starting in 1985, but the fortunes of the Major Indoor Soccer League started to fade by the late 1980’s.  The MISL nearly folded in 1988 and by 1991 Comets attendance had fallen more than 50% from its peak of nearly 16,000 fans per game in 1984.

The Comets went out of business in July of 1991.  Sensing an opportunity, a pair of novice sports investors from Rochester, New York, Chris Economides and Louis Gitsis, purchased the Atlanta Attack of the lower-budget National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) and quickly shifted the team to Kansas City in September 1991, two months after the collapse of the Comets.   They retained the Attack name in Kansas City, but signed popular for Comets stars Gino Schiraldi and Jim Schwab to try and lure back disheartened Comets fans.

The Kansas City Attack spent their first season in the winter of 1991-92 at the smaller, cheaper Municipal Auditorium.  The team was strong (26-14) and made it to the playoff semi-finals, but attendance languished at 3,050 fans per game, which was a far cry from the Comets days, and beneath the NPSL’s modest league-wide average of 3,600.

In 1992-93 the Attack returned to Kemper Arena and saw a 50% surge in attendance, but still nothing like the Comets’ days of the 80’s.  Nevertheless, the team was terrific and advanced to 1993 NPSL Championship Series against the Cleveland Crunch.  Fairweather Kansas City fans jumped on the bandwagon and a crowd of 12,134 turned out at Kemper Arena on April 30, 1993 to watch Kansas City claim its first indoor soccer title with a 19-7 victory over Cleveland in Game 5 of the 1993 NPSL Championship Series.

The Attack won a second championship following the 1996-97 NPSL season.

In the summer of 2001, the National Professional Soccer League disbanded and the surviving teams re-organized under the nostalgic Major Indoor Soccer League brand name.   Attack owner Don Kincaid chose to play the 1980’s nostalgia card as well, dropping the Attack identity in favor of a revived Kansas City Comets name.   The former Attack franchise played four more seasons under the Comets name before folding in September 2005.  Kincaid lost a reported $15 million on the franchise between 1993 and 2005 according to The Kansas City Star.




==Kansas City Attack Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other


1994-95 11/27/1994 vs. Dayton Dynamo  W 19-5 Program
1994-95 1/22/1995 vs. St. Louis Ambush L 23-12 Program
1994-95 1/24/1995 vs. Buffalo Blizzard W 19-11 Program


1995-96 2/24/1996 @ Cleveland Crunch W 24-18 Program



National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs


1981-1991 Kansas City Comets


Kansas City CometsMajor Indoor Soccer League (1981-1990)
Major Soccer League (1990-1991)

Born: May 5, 1981 – The San Francisco Fog relocate to Kansas City.
Died: July 16, 1991 – The Comets cease operations.

Arena: Kemper Arena (15,800)

Team Colors: Fiery Orange & Strato Blue


MISL Championships: None


Imagine if some upstart sport – a junk sport as some of the old cranks in the sporting press would call it – went into an big city arena next fall and outdrew the local NBA team.  Not just outdrew the basketball club, but nearly doubled their average gate for each game and eventually drove them out of town.  It’s inconceivable that a sport like indoor lacrosse or arena football could blindside a city like this today, but this is exactly what happened in Kansas City in the early 1980’s with the arrival of the Major Indoor Soccer League.

The MISL was three years old when Dr. David Schoenstadt arrived in Kansas City in the summer of 1981.  Schoenstadt owned a sad sack two-year old franchise most recently known as the San Francisco Fog.  The club had already failed in Michigan (as the Detroit Lightning) and the Bay Area, lasting only a single winter in each city.  In Missouri, the Fog became the Kansas City Comets. They would split dates at the 16,000-seat Kemper Arena with the NBA’s Kansas City Kings.

Schoenstadt entrusted the management of the Comets to the young brothers Tracey and Tim Lieweke.  Tracey was President, Tim General Manager and a third brother, Tod, ran the Comets’ community relations programs.  The Liewekes promoted Comets games as all-around entertainment events, augmented by light shows, lasers and pyrotechnics.  These production values are taken for granted today by NBA and NHL fans, but in the early 1980’s they were innovations still percolating upwards from leagues like the MISL (and often decried by old guard sportswriters of the era).

Kansas City CometsDuring the 1981-82 season, the Comets drew an announced average of 11,508 to the Kemper Arena for 22 home dates.  This was 2nd best in the 12-team MISL and, more importantly, the Comets popularity dwarfed that of the Kansas City Kings, who averaged a paltry 6,644 fans that winter.  Former Comets season ticket holder Brian Holland writes frequently about the Comets on his blog Holland’s Comet and compares Comets/Kings attendance for the four winters that the NBA and MISL went head-to-head in Kansas City from 1981 to 1985.  It was no contest, with the Comets reaching their peak of popularity in their third season of 1983-84, averaging a near capacity 15,786 while selling out 15 of 24 home dates.  According to Holland, the Comets even outdrew the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs head-to-head during one weekend in December 1983.

By 1985, the Kansas City Kings season ticket base had eroded to just 3,200 seats.  In January, the Kings announced a relocation to Sacramento, California.  Their departure was attributed by some, including former Kings Head Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons, to simply being out-marketed by the Comets:

“Here’s something that’s not even a game,” said Fitzsimmons, quoted in The Houston Chronicle in April 1985. “They make up the rules as they go along.  But they’ve marketed aggressively and they’ve taken Kansas City by storm.”

With the Kings gone, the Comets became the primary tenant at Kemper Arena for the first time in the winter of 1985-86 and gained a stranglehold on prime dates.  Ironically, the fortunes of the Comets and the Major Indoor Soccer League had already started to decline.  The Lieweke brothers left Kansas City in 1984 at the zenith of the team’s popularity.  Younger brother Tim returned for two seasons as team President from 1986 to 1988, but by then the MISL was in contraction mode, as were the turnstile figures for the Comets.  The league nearly folded in the summer of 1988 after four teams folded.

David Schoenstadt, the rumpled anesthesiologist who brought the Comets to Kansas City in 1981, sold the club to an unwieldy group of 23 local investors in September 1987.   By the dawn of the 1990’s, announced attendance fell to an average of 7,103 per match, a decline or more than 50% from the club’s Reagan-era heyday.  The Comets folded after ten seasons on July 1991.  The MISL followed the Comets into the dustbin of history exactly one  year later.


Kansas City Comets Memorabilia


Comets Video

1991 Booster Club Highlight Video


1981 TV feature on the marketing of the Kansas City Comets.



1987-88 MISL Rule Book & Schedule 



Major Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs


Written by AC

February 23rd, 2013 at 4:34 pm


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