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1988-1996 Chicago Power

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Chicago Power ProgramAmerican Indoor Soccer Association (1988-1990)
National Professional Soccer League (1990-1996)

Born: 1988 – AISA expansion franchise.
Moved: August 23, 1996 (Edmonton Drillers)

Arenas:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

 

The Chicago Power were an indoor soccer club formed in 1988.  The Power were basically a lower-budget successor to the Chicago Sting (1975-1988), the city’s popular and long-running pro side that went out of business in July of 1988.  Several weeks after the Sting closed their doors, a former Sting investor named Lou Weisbach purchased an expansion franchise in the American Indoor Soccer Association (AISA) and arranged a lease with the Sting’s former home, the Rosement Horizon, for the winter of 1988-89.

Karl-Heinz Granitza, the German striker who had been the Sting’s greatest star from 1979-1987, signed on as player-coach and part-owner.  Other former Sting regulars such as Batata, Bret Hall, Manny Rojas, and Teddy Krafft soon signed with the Power as well.

The team had a promising expansion campaign, advancing to the AISA championship series before losing to the Canton Invaders.  The Power’s sophomore season was less fortunate. Granitza, the club’s top scorer, broke his ankle in December 1989.  Two months later, he was fired as coach by Power owner Lou Weisbach during a lengthy losing streak and relinquished his 25% ownership stake in the team.

Weisbach fired the staff in the summer of 1990nd was on the verge of closing the team when white knight businessman Ron Bergstrom stepped in to rescue the Power on the eve of the 1990-91 season.  Bergstrom tried to lure back Granitza, but the German had had enough.  Instead, the new owner turned to Pato Margetic, another popular ex-Sting star of the early 80’s, for the player-coach role.

Margetic led the Power to their first and only championship season in the newly renamed National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) in the spring of 1991.  The Power swept the Dayton Dynamo in three straight games in the finals.

The Power’s fortunes faded after Ron Bergstrom withdrew financial support of the team following the 1993-94 season.  New owners failed to materialize but the NPSL was loath to lose the Chicago market, so the team tottered along as a league-operated doormat for two final seasons in 1994-95 and 1995-96.  The team also lost its long-time home at the suburban Rosemont Horizon after the popular Chicago Wolves minor league hockey team launched in 1994.

The Power were finally euthanized in August 1996 when Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington purchased the carcass of the club from the NPSL and moved it north of the border to Edmonton.

 

==Chicago Power Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1988-89

1988-89 11/11/1988 @ Canton Invaders ?? Program
1988-89 12/30/1988 @ Canton Invaders ?? Program
1988-89 2/26/1989 @ Canton Invaders L 19-4 Program

1989-90

1989-90 2/19/1990 @ Milwaukee Wave W 11-9 (OT) Program

1990-91

1990-91 11/25/1990 vs. Illinois Thunder ?? Program Game Notes

 

==Links==

National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs

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1988 Chicago Express

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World Basketball League (1988)

Born: 1987 – International Basketball Association founding franchise.
Died: December 8, 1988 – The Express relocate to Springfield, IL.

Arena: Rosemont Horizon (16,644)

Team Colors: Scarlet Red, Royal Blue & White

Owner: Barry Fox

 

Can you launch a minor league basketball in Chicago on the shoulders of Michael Jordan’s big brother Larry?  Apparently not, as the Chicago Express of the World Basketball League lasted just one summer, playing to acres of empty seats at the suburban Rosemont Horizon in 1988.

Larry Jordan, out of North Carolina A&T, was likely the biggest “name” on the Express, but certainly not the team’s best player.  That title went to Chicago product Alfredrick Hughes, a free shooting former star at Loyola of Chicago and former 1st round pick (1985) of the San Antonio Spurs.  Hughes was a classic tweener – too short at 6′ 5″ to make it in the NBA as a power forward, but a dominant minor league, especially in the WBL, which was restricted to players 6′ 5″ and under.  In the World Basketball League, Alfredrick Hughes was a literal and figurative giant.

Jim Les was another notable player, a guard out of Bradley University in Peoria.  Les was named to the All-WBL team in 1988 and earned a spot with the Utah Jazz in the fall of 1988-89, where he appeared in 82 games.  Les eventually played parts of seven season in the NBA from 1988 to 1995.

The Head Coach of the Express was former Northwestern University coach Rich Falk.  Falk resigned late in the season and was replaced by Assistant Coach Walt Perrin.

The Express’ first game was on May 19, 1988 against the Youngstown Pride at the Rosemont Horizon.  The game drew a decent announced crowd of 5,250 and the Express treated fans to a 115-102 victory, led by Hughes with a game high 25 points and 11 boards.

The crowds quickly evaporated though.  By the end of June, team owner Barry Fox resorted to massive free ticket giveaways, which produced the Express’ two largest crowds of the season, but failed to generate much in the way of return customers.  For the season, the Express averaged fewer than 2,000 fans in the 16,000-seat Horizon.  Late in the year, the Express moved a game to the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Illinois and drew over 4,000 fans, leading to speculation that the team would move there permanently for the 1989 season.

The Express finished the 1988 season at 27-27 and earned the WBL’s fourth and final playoff spot.  After defeating the Calgary 88’s in a semi-final game, the Express played the Las Vegas Silver Streaks in the World Basketball League championship game on September 9, 1988.  The Silver Streaks won 102-95.

In December 1988, Express owner Barry Fox made the rumors official and moved the team to Springfield, Illinois.  The club competed there for two more seasons as the Illinois Express before folding at the end of the 1990 season.   The WBL folded in 1992 midway through its fifth season.

 

 

==Express Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1988 5/19/1988 vs. Youngstown Pride W 115-102 Program Rosters

 

==Links==

World Basketball League Media Guides

World Basketball League Programs

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Written by AC

January 1st, 2014 at 3:48 pm

1975-1988 Chicago Sting

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Chicago StingNorth American Soccer League (1975-1984)
Major Indoor Soccer League (1982-1983 & 1984-1988)

Born: October 31, 1974 – NASL expansion franchise
Folded: July 8, 1988.

Stadiums:

Arenas:

Team Colors:

  • Black & Yellow (1983)
  • Black, Gold & White (1987)

Owners:

 

The Chicago Sting were an accomplished pro soccer club that enjoyed success both outdoors and indoors during a thirteen-year run from 1975 through 1988.   The Sting were formed on Halloween day 1974 as an expansion franchise in the North American Soccer League.

During the Sting’s early seasons under the direction of former Manchester United defender Bill Foulkes (1975-1977), the roster had a dominant British presence.  The Sting were not a factor in the NASL championship hunt during this era (despite a division title in 1976) and drew very poorly as the team shuffled games between Comiskey Park, Soldier Field and Wrigley Field each summer.   As late as 1978, the Sting had the worst attendance in the entire 24-team NASL, pulling just 4,188 fans per game.

It’s somewhat remarkable that Sting owner Lee Stern, a Chicago commodities broker, hung in during such a long stretch of lean years.  In fact, Stern would prove to be one of the most steadfast owners in American soccer, backing the money-losing club for its entire 13-year existence.  And as the 1980’s approached, the Sting’s fortunes began to improve.

Karl-Heinz Granitza Chicago StingThe 1978 season started disastrously.  Under new Head Coach Malcolm Musgrove (another British import), the Sting set a league record losing their first ten games of the season.  Musgrove would be fired without ever registering a win for the Sting.  But the English-heavy complexion of the club had already begun to shift under Musgrove.  1978 marked the arrival of West German striker Karl-Heinz Granitza, who would become the club’s greatest star, along with fellow German Arno Steffenhagen, another key contributor, and Danish winger Jorgen Kristensen.  German assistant coach Willy Roy took over the coaching reigns from Musgrove and improbably led the 0-10 Sting into the 1978 playoffs (thanks to the NASL’s very generous playoff system).

In 1980 the Sting won a division title with the 3rd best record in the league (21-11).  Granitza established himself as one of the NASL’s mostly consistently productive scorers.  In 1981, the Sting were even better – division champs again with a 23-9 record, tied for the best mark in the league with the defending champion New York Cosmos. Pato Margetic, a dynamic 21-year old Argentinean arrived to team with Granitza up top and spark the most potent offense in the NASL.  Margetic became an immediate fan favorite.  Sting crowds had tripled since the low water mark of 1978, up to nearly 13,000 per match in 1981.

The team’s growing popularity in Chicago was due in part to the Sting’s rivalry with and uncanny mastery of the New York Cosmos.  The Cosmos were an international super club before such a concept really existed, featuring a collection of world all-stars such as Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia.  By 1981, the New Yorkers had won three of the past four NASL championships.  And the Sting absolutely owned them.   Cosmos derbies became a big draw in Chicago.  A June 1981 regular season match against New York drew a franchise record 30,501 to Wrigley field for a thrilling 6-5 Sting victory.  (The Cosmos PR department later produced a short highlight reel of this match calledThe Greatest Game in NASL History.)

In September 1981, a new record crowd of 39,623 came out to Comiskey Park on a cold Monday night to watch the Sting eliminate the San Diego Sockers in Game Three of the playoff semi-finals to earn a trip to Soccer Bowl ’81, the NASL’s championship match.  They would play their arch rivals, the Cosmos, at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on September 26, 1981.  Improbably, the NASL’s two highest scoring teams played a scoreless regulation and overtime period.  That sent the game into the NASL’s unusual “shootout” format to determine a league champion…

 

The Sting’s victory in Soccer Bowl ’81 gave the Windy City its first major professional sports since the Bears won the NFL championship in 1963.  And if you think calling the Sting and the NASL “major” seems like a stretch, consider this: nearly 10,000 fans greeted the Sting at O’Hare Airport on their return home from Toronto and over 100,000 more lined LaSalle Avenue for a ticker tape parade a few days later.

Chicago StingAs the Sting were developing into one of the NASL’s best outdoor clubs at the dawn of the 1980’s, the league also began to experiment with indoor soccer.  The Sting played their first indoor season in the winter of 1980-81 at the old Chicago Stadium downtown. They reached the indoor finals that first season, losing in a two-game sweep at the hands of the Edmonton Drillers.

The Sting quickly became a box office hit indoors.  Their league-leading average indoor crowd of 13,322 at Chicago Stadium for the 1981-82 season was better than the average for any outdoor season the Sting ever played. The team’s popularity was due in part to their near invincibility at home.  Going into the 1981-82 indoor playoffs, the Sting had an incredible 18-game winning streak at Chicago Stadium.  On Valentine’s Day 1982, the Sting beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 10-9 in an overtime thriller at Chicago Stadium.  The standing room crowd of 19,398 was the largest ever to see an indoor soccer game in the United States at the time.  As the NASL began to wither – shrinking from 24 clubs in 1980 to just 9 by the beginning of the 1984 season, many began to assert that the Sting were better off simply playing indoors.

By 1984, the NASL was on its last legs.  The Sting defeated the Toronto Blizzard to win the NASL’s final championship in October of that year, but the buzz around Chicago was nothing like when the Sting won the Soccer Bowl in 1981.  There would be no massive parade with 100,000 fans lining the streets of downtown Chicago.  The Cubs were in the playoffs with a chance to win the pennant for the first time in decades, for one thing. For another, Sting owner Lee Stern had already formally pulled his club out of the dying NASL by the time the final whistle blew on the team’s championship victory.  The Sting were accepted into the Major Indoor Soccer League in August of 1984.  The club’s future was now exclusively as an indoor team.

By the time the Sting moved permanently indoors in the fall of 1984, the club’s moment was already in eclipse.  The team finished with a strong 28-20 record and averaged over 10,000 fans for the final time.  But a pair of 1st round home playoff losses to the Cleveland Force drew small crowds.  The following season the Sting finished with a losing record and the team fired Willy Roy after eight years and two championships.  Attendance crashed by 30%.  After the 1985-86 season, the Sting left Chicago Stadium for the suburban Rosemont Horizon, citing the deteriorating neighborhood around the Stadium and their belief that the team’s core audience lived in the suburbs.  Attendance dropped a further 20% during the Sting’s first season at the Horizon in 1986-87.  Karl-Heinz Granitza was suspended for insubordination in early 1987, ending his nine-year run with the Sting.

Chicago Sting MISLThe Sting mounted one last big counter offensive against the indifference swallowing the club in the summer of 1987.  Lee Stern brought on advertising executive Lou Weisbach as an investment partner and hired Chicago Bulls VP of Marketing David Rosenberg to re-energize the fan base.  Weisbach and Rosenberg boosted the front office staff to an all-time high of 21 employees and created a marketing campaign around “The New Chicago Sting”.  The center piece of the campaign was a reported $1 million investment in post-game concerts for two-thirds of the Sting’s home dates at the Rosemont Horizon.  In July 1987, Rosenberg unveiled the line-up of schlocky soft rock and oldies acts and cornball comedians, including the likes of Marie Osmond, Buddy Hackett, Fabian, Susan Anton and Jeffrey Osborne.

Whether the marriage of indoor soccer and live pop music was doomed from inception or whether it was the desperately unhip line-up of acts that the Sting procured, the campaign was a flop.  One month into the season, attendance was flat at under 6,000 per game and the Sting began lopping the concerts of the schedule.  A Granitza-less last place club under the direction of Roy’s successor Erich Geyer didn’t help matters.

By the end of the season, the Sting were done in Chicago.  A possible sale and relocation to Denver was explored and abandoned.   The Sting officially folded on July 8, 1988.

 

Chicago Sting Shop


Sting Throwback Jersey by Ultras


Sting Retro T-Shirt by Ultras

Ian Plenderleith’s Definitive Account of “The Short Times & Fast Life of the North American Soccer League”
 

Chicago Sting Memorabilia

 

Chicago Sting Video

 

 

 

 

Sting vs. Cosmos indoors at the Brendan Byrne Arena in New Jersey, circa 1981.

 

The Sting in their final declining years at Rosemont Horizon.  December 19, 1986 against the New York Express.  Note the unusual clear Plexiglass boards at the Horizon.

 

 

==In Memoriam==

Former Sting Head Coach Malcolm Musgrove died on September 14, 2007 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at age 74.

Rudy Keller, who played one game at midfield for the Sting during the 1975 season, died in February 2011 at age 68.

 

 

==Downloads==

1981 Chicago Sting Playoff Portfolio prepared for Soccer Bowl ’81 

January 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

February 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

March 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

April 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

May 1987 Chicago Sting “Bee Lines” Newsletter

1987-88 MISL Rule Book & Schedule

 

 ==Links==

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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1987-1989 Chicago Bruisers

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Chicago BruisersArena Football League (1987-1989)

Born: 1987 – Arena Football League founding franchise.
Folded: 1990

Arena: Rosemont Horizon

Team Colors:

Owners:

Arena Bowl Championships:

 

 

Jim Foster sketched the concept for Arena Football on the back of a manilla envelope while watching the Major Indoor Soccer League All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden in February 1981.  Foster’s idea for a high-scoring, pass happy Frankensport layered a 50-yard carpeted football field over a hockey rink.  Teams would play eight-on-eight, with all players except the quarterback playing both ways – offense and defense.  There would be no punting and taut 30-foot wide nets placed on either side of the uprights to keep kickoffs, missed field goals and errant passes in play.

Foster commissioned the equipment and staged test games of Arena Football at the Rockford, Illinois MetroCentre in the spring of 1986 and the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago in February 1987.  Armed with an ESPN television deal, Foster launched a preview season in June 1987, featuring four league-owned franchises playing a six-game schedule.  The four original clubs were the Chicago Bruisers, Denver Dynamite, Pittsburgh Gladiators and Washington Commandos.

The Chicago Bruisers made their home at the Rosemont Horizon, site of one of Foster’s test games, in early 1987.  The Bruisers sold 1,100 season tickets for the 1987 season and debuted at home on June 20th, 1987 against the Denver Dynamite on ESPN.   The teams treated the announced crowd of 10,103 to the type of hyperactive end-to-end scoring that Foster had promised.  The Bruisers blew an eight point lead and missed a game winning field goal attempt – all in the final 43 seconds of regulation – before falling 52-44 in overtime.

The 1987 Bruisers roster consisted mostly of NFL training camp castoffs and refugees from the defunct USFL.  The most experienced players included NFL and USFL vets Durwood Roquemore, Reggie “Super Gnat” Smith and the kicker Nick Mike-Mayer.  Back-up quarterback Sean Payton barely saw the field during his lone season in Arena Football, but would later go on to coach the New Orleans Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV.  The Bruisers finished the brief season at 2-4, allowing the most points in the league (310) and scoring the fewest (217).   The league overall claimed average attendance in excess of 11,000 per game.

Chicago BruisersFollowing Arena Football’s 1987 success, Foster sold limited partnerships in his creation to five new investor groups.  Arena Football placed expansion clubs in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City and Providence, Rhode Island.   A group of four Illinois businessmen stepped forward as limited partners in the Bruisers, led by Chicago heart surgeon Dr. Constantine “Dino” Tatooles.

Everything about the 1988 Arena Football League was bigger.  The scheduled doubled from 6 to 12 regular season games per team.  Player pay increasesd from $500 per game with a $50 bonus for each win to $1,000 per game with a $150 victory bonus.  The 1988 Bruisers surged to a 10-0 start on the arm of Arena League MVP Ben Bennett, who passed for 49 touchdowns in 12 games.

The Bruisers finished the season in first place with a 10-1-1 record and earned the right to host Arena Bowl II on July 30th, 1988.  In an unusually low-scoring game, the Detroit Drive defeated the Bruisers 24-13 before 15,018 at the Rosemont Horizon and a national television audience on ESPN.

Following the 1988 season, Foster’s limited partnership structure began to fall apart.  For their investment, the limited partners received operating rights to their local franchise. But they held little of the financial and marketing discretion typically accorded to professional sports owners.  Player personnel and league marketing decisions remained the domain of Foster, the league’s Commissioner.  As Foster, a former United States Football League executive, described it to Sports Illustrated’s Paul Zimmerman:

“We’ve flushed out the big ego guys.  We tell ’em ‘look, you don’t own the team, you rent it.’  That gets rid of the Donald Trumps right away.”

Tom Rooney, director of marketing for the Pittsburgh Civic Arena where the league-owned Pittsburgh Gladiators played, gave a different take on the arrangement to The Pittsburgh Press in November 1988.

“You don’t tell someone who puts in millions of dollars how to run their team.  Jim Foster was naive.  It’s impractical because of the way of human nature and especially the human nature of people who are worth millions of dollars.  They don’t throw in millions of dollars and say ‘Jim Foster, you run the league’.”

Chicago Bruisers

Ben Bennett – 1988

The limited partners attempted to buy out Foster during the fall of 1988, but he refused to sell.  In February 1989, Detroit Drive officials announced to the press that the 1989 season would be cancelled as a result of the dispute.  Ultimately, Foster retained control of his creation and most of the limited partners departed.  The Los Angeles, New England and New York clubs folded.

Deprived of investors and time, Foster scrambled to put together an abbreviated 1989 season.  Games would be co-promoted with arena management companies, rather than franchise investors.  The Denver Dynamite and Washington (now Maryland) Commandos were resuscitated to boost the league to five active clubs, possibly because their helmets and uniforms were already in storage from 1987.  The league announced plans for what amounted to a barnstorming season.  The entire league schedule would consist of just ten regular season games, plus two semi-finals and Arena Bowl III.  Each of the five clubs would play four games, appearing only one time in their home city.  The remaining five games were scheduled in neutral markets as test games for future expansion opportunities.

Foster slashed player salaries from $1,000 per game to $400 per game in 1989, but many key players returned anyway, including Bruisers quarterback and 1988 league MVP Ben Bennett, Reggie Smith and RB-LB Osia Lewis.  Head Coach Perry Moss did not return after leading the Bruisers to a first place record in 1988.  He was replaced by long-time Ottawa Rough Riders Head Coach George Brancato.

The 1989 “Chicago” Bruisers made their lone appearance in Illinois on July 7th, 1989 against the Detroit Drive in a rematch of the previous year’s Arena Bowl II.  In keeping with the on-the-cheap nature of the 1989 season, both end zones at the Rosemont Horizon displayed the name and colors of the visiting team.  To save money on equipment, the league simply shipped Detroit’s carpet surface from city to city.  The Drive defeated the Bruisers 40-28 before an announced crowd of 6,662.  The Bruisers finished their final season with a 1-3 record.

Jim Foster received a patent for his Arena Football game system in March 1990.  Armed with the patent, Foster again began recruiting new investors, this time on a more traditional franchise model, with greater control for local owners.  New teams were added in Albany and Dallas and investors came forward for the Denver and Pittsburgh clubs.  Local ownership did not step up for the Bruisers.  Arena Football announced the termination of the franchise in April 1990.

###

In August 1990, Chicago attorney Jerry Kurz announced plans to revive the Bruisers for the 1991 Arena Football season.  However, Kurz’s group failed to get their financing together and Arena Football revoked the franchise license in March 1991.

Arena Football returned to Chicago and the former Rosemont Horizon, now known as Allstate Arena, in 2001.   The Chicago Rush were co-owned by Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka and played in the original Arena Football League from 2001 until its demise in 2008.  A revived, low-budget version of the Rush later returned briefly play in a re-booted AFL but folded for good in 2013.

 

Chicago Bruisers Memorabilia

 

Bruisers Video

The 1989 Charles Bronson actioner Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects features an extended sequence shot during an actual Chicago Bruisers Arena Football game played in 1988 against the Los Angeles Cobras at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.  This is one of the first depictions of the sport of Arena Football in the broader popular culture.

 

Downloads

1988 Arena Football League fan survey

 

Links

Arena Football League Media Guides
Arena Football League Programs

1987 Chicago Bruisers stats & game results on ArenaFan.com
1988 Chicago Bruisers stats & game results on ArenaFan.com
1989 Chicago Bruisers stats & game results on ArenaFan.com

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Written by AC

May 21st, 2011 at 12:36 pm

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