It may not be the NFL experience Southern Californians used to know, but at least the L.A. KISS gives football-starved fans a pro team to cheer for after two decades without an NFL team.
The KISS isn't just your run-of-the-mill expansion franchise, either. The so-called KISS "experience" is what happens when football meets rock 'n' roll in a head-on collision.
On Saturday night, the SaberCats get their first look at the KISS "experience" when they play in Anaheim.
"I've heard they are trying to do some unique things there," SaberCats veteran quarterback Russ Michna said. "But the thing about the AFL, it's a different experience. It's a different environment every place. This is just going to be another new experience for us."
If the KISS' home opener was any gauge, the SaberCats are in for an eye-opening experience. It featured fireworks and a laser show, the national anthem played on an electric guitar, bikini-wearing women dancing throughout the game.
For good measure, Motorhead lead singer Lemmy Kilmister handled the pregame coin toss, while standing on a silver-colored playing surface.
During breaks in the action, fans were treated to things such as stunt-performing bikers and, naturally, the KISS Girls.
Team co-owners Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are best known for heavy makeup, wagging tongues and rock anthems such as "Rock & Roll All Nite." So, what drew them to the indoor brand of football?
"They were drawn to the mix of fun and adrenaline, something the band is quite familiar with," said Schuyler Hoversten, the KISS president. "They saw the AFL as pro sports with a little bit more and felt it was something they could help shape and put a spotlight on, be it literal or figurative."
Simmons and Stanley aren't about to ease into their new venture. It's about getting noticed and shock value. Create enough of a buzz so that people are interested enough to buy a ticket and see for themselves.
"We are the black sheep of rock 'n' roll," Stanley told the Orange County Register earlier this month. "And we're going to be the black sheep of arena football."
In other words, Simmons and Stanley intend to do things their way, be in your face and over the top. Critics, be damned.
So far, fans seem to be buying it. The average attendance for AFL games is just shy of 8,000. The KISS drew 12,045 to its first home game.
Not everyone is a huge fan of the nonstop assault on the senses so prevalent at KISS games. KISS wide receiver Donovan Morgan called the home-opening spectacle a "distraction."
"The guys did enjoy it but, for me, I'm a football player," Morgan told Fox Sports after the home-opener. "I come here to play football. I don't want to say it was a little bit too much, but it was a little bit too much."
Michna has seen his share of antics at AFL games. He said he doesn't have a problem staying focused during games.
"Sometimes during timeouts, I'll look around a little bit and see what's going on," he said. "Other than that, I don't expect it to be much of a distraction."
The KISS lost its second home game but scored big with fans once again, as 10,570 showed up for a game against the Cleveland Gladiators.
It didn't hurt that fans who purchased season tickets received tickets to a KISS concert. So, it's too early and too difficult to gauge whether the KISS is going to be like its namesake, carve out a niche and stick around for decades.
Or if it'll go the way of the Los Angeles Express, which came in 1983 and went in 1985 as part of the now-defunct United States Football League.
"We are about giving our fans something more and not about creating something that ends up fizzling out," Hoversten said. "We are going to stay true to this principle. So, when fans come to our games, they're going to get an overall sports experience, wrapped in an entertainment experience that's second-to-none."
Follow Steve Corkran on Twitter at twitter.com/CorkOnTheNFL.
SaberCats (3-3) at Los Angeles (2-3), 7 p.m. CSNBA