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"If there's one thing we know, it's how to give people bang for buck," Simmons says. "Football has become prohibitive in the sense that you have to mortgage your house or sell your car to go to Super Bowls. What we're trying to do is make this successful and, at the same time, available for families."
As an additional carrot to lure fans to the arena, there will be Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley bobblehead nights. Season-ticket holders will get a free KISS concert at the end of the season. And after each game—win, lose or draw—the players will stick around for a meet-and-greet session with fans. But Simmons and Stanley know that, despite all their celebrity and showmanship, luring fans to the Honda Center ultimately boils down to winning. By hiring the reigning Coach of the Year, McMillen, formerly with the Chicago Rush, and signing Brennan, Simmons and Stanley believe the two men accurately depict what the LA KISS will stand for.
"Hearing our coach wax poetic about the nature of character is refreshing," Simmons says. "The first thing he started with is that 'You're the representative of our team. When you meet the people who kindly gave us this facility, you're our emissary. Be nice to people.'"
"The AFL is misunderstood," Stanley adds. "Some people don't even know the Arena Football League exists. Other people think it's a bunch of second-rate players. They're not. We want people to see this as a springboard. If they want to get to the NFL, bless 'em. If they want to wear the crown in the AFL, so be it. It's a pretty good place to warm up, and it's definitely not the bullpen."
* * *
As Simmons walks across the Santa Ana College campus, he sees two students gazing his way, so he waves and says hello. They seem confused and look at each other with a sense of disbelief. After an awkward pause, they continue on their way without responding.
"If I had the makeup on, they'd know who I was," he says with a chuckle, pointing to his face.
But something else seems to be on Simmons' mind as he excitedly divulges details about the reality show. He can't find his car keys. He stops talking about the LA KISS and pats himself in an attempt to find them. He thinks he left his keys on the field, but he isn't sure.
We approach the field, and Simmons realizes he's made a rookie mistake. In his mad dash to make the call time, Simmons left his keys dangling from the ignition of his Navigator; the engine is still running. He looks down and shakes his head, seemingly disbelieving his own actions.
"This is what happens when you have too many exciting things going on," he says as he motions a fake gun to his head. "It's funny: I can remember our roster, but I can't remember my car keys. Go figure."