I was so much older then...

In August 1988, the Chicago Soccer FanAddicts hosted the United Soccer Boosters' Convention. With the Chicago STING having suspended operations only months before, it appeared as if soccer here would disappear after a 13-year run.
But the enthusiasm of the FanAddicts in hosting the U.S.B.C. stuck a chord with a couple of people. They were Mssrs. Lou Weisbach (then CEO of Ha-Lo Industries) and Peter Richardson. Mr. Lou Weisbach had been involved with the STING in the 1987-88 MISL season. Mr. Peter Richardson owned indoor soccer facilities in northern Illinois, ran the Chicago STINGERS of the USISL Division Three, and had two sons playing soccer, David, and Michael, who had played some games for the 1987-88 STING side.

They contacted the American Indoor Soccer Association {now the.. actually, it is way too convoluted to illustrate how leagues have transformed, amalgamated, or been renamed} and its Commissioner, Mr. Steve M. Paxos, in Canton, Ohio. After some negotiation, they secured an AISA franchise for Chicago, to play in Rosemont.

This new franchise had some good things going for themselves. One: It was the return of Karl-Heinz Granitza to the indoor circuit. He was a player and a personality upon which interest could be built. He came up with the name POWER for the team. Two: A handful of good players associated with the STING in their last seasons hung around to play for the POWER. Three: The AISA had a strict standard of financial compliance. Its philosophy of a team being a success on their financial ledger as the foundation for soccer around the USA sought to ensure that a franchise would not become another New York EXPRESS in-season fiasco [I.E.: Spending beyond their means, and ultimately ceasing operations at mid-season].

To show their committment, the owners of the POWER announced a "lifetime season ticket". If you would give them $1,000 then, you would receive a ticket to every home game they played. Reports vary as to how many actually took advantage of this offer, but I was one of them.


I am proud to say that for the next eight seasons, the POWER were my core belief. I was at the first game in Fort Wayne, Indiana on 4 November 1988, and I was at the last game in Kansas City, Missouri on 23 March 1996. The succeeding pages in this section denote the players, statistics, & games of the Chicago POWER franchise. I have titled them "The Chicago POWER Memorial Archive".


I'm younger than that now.

From August 1994 until March 1996, I believe I was the one who most cared about the activities of the Chicago POWER franchise, both on and off the field.
In August 1994, while in Canton for the U.S.B.C., I visited the N.P.S.L. headquarters. I spoke with Commissioner Steve M. Paxos and Mr. Paul Luchowski. The Commissioner told me that the previous owner of the POWER, Mr. Ron Bergstrom, had withdrawn his financial support of the team. I asked if there was anything I could do. He mentioned checking local people to see if any of them might be interested in buying the franchise; and attempting to do the things the franchise should be doing, but without spending any appreciable amount of money. I interpreted this to mean seeing if someone would broadcast our matches for free; if any of my contacts (mostly in breweries) would like to become sponsors; and encouraging people to buy season tickets.

We had some potential for outside help. Both b**eball and the National Hockey League were having labor problems. One AM radio station in Chicago had the rights to a team in each of the affected sports. I began pitching our broadcasts to them. My selling points were that this was Chicago's (The home city of the U.S.S.F. & host to the World Cup Opening Match.) team in North America's most stable soccer League, that they needed sports programming, and that our games were available for practically nothing.

The season began in late October. Our schedule had us playing three neutral site games in Philadelphia, PA.; Worcester, MA.; and New Haven, CT. The first of these neutral site games was our second game of the season, versus the Baltimore SPIRIT in Philadelphia. (One night after opening @ Baltimore.)
I passed up the opportunity to attend the Great American Beer Festival® in Denver to set up some sample broadcasts. I needed a play-by-play person. Someone who wouldn't shrink from being the successor to Mr. Howard Balson. Someone who would do it cheaply, if not for free. I penciled myself in as the color analyst.

My first choice was my closest friend, as well as someone with whom I had worked and attended many, many POWER games in the prior years, Mr. Jim Egan. Jim is the Sports Information Director at Concordia University - River Forest [IL]. But Jim was not available this weekend due to it being Concordia's gridiron homecoming date.

I contacted Mr. Keith Kokinda. Keith now lives in central Ohio. Keith then was a prospective broadcaster. He had been trying to link with either the Cleveland CRUNCH or the Canton INVADERS. Keith gave some thought, but did elect to join me in Baltimore that weekend. Keith flew in on Southwest Airlines and I drove my 1987 Chevrolet Sprint all the way to Baltimore.

The broadcasts were okay. We weren't on-the-air anywhere, but we did a decent enough job. We were better on Saturday, probably because we got to meet Mr. Ed Tepper, who was the most responsible for popularizing indoor soccer in the U.S.A. The POWER had gone to the adidas Wembley long-sleeved kit, and had opted for a black jersey with red numbers without a white outline. Plus, there were no numbers anywhere on the front. We took the audio tapes of the broadcasts and went back to our respective homes. I drove Keith back to Baltimore-Washington Int'l. Airport so he could fly back to Cleveland and attend the INVADERS' game in Canton that Sunday afternoon. I got back to Chicago on Wednesday, having gone via Harrisburg (& viewing and speaking with HEAT players and staff at their practice facility); St. Mary's, PA.; & Mansfield, OH. The POWER's next game was that Saturday night in Canton.

I learned that day that Canton were going to videotape the game that Saturday to show on tape delay on the cable company [Warner Cable] origination channel in Canton & Akron. I called Mr. Andy Smiles {now deceased} of the INVADERS and asked if we could have our broadcasters in the booth at the Canton Memorial Civic Center, superimposing our voices over a video feed (the same one the Canton announcers had). I felt confident that I could get a videotape of this game on the air somewhere in Chicago. SportsChannel Chicago had the first option on the telecast.

When I left Chicago on Saturday morning (driving again: it was a good thing the Sprint gets 46 miles per gallon), I was under the impression that Keith and I would be doing the game and that we would have a videotape to shop around Chicago within a week of the game. When I arrived in Canton, Mr. Chris Mota, an administrative assistant for the POWER, met me in the lobby of the Canton Hilton and told me this stunning news: Keith had been hired by Andy Smiles to do the game for Warner Cable!

So I had to revise my plans, right then and there. Instead of being an on-air color commentator, I reverted back to a position I had done on other soccer telecasts: Live talent stats & facts. The one outward concession to Chicago was the interview segment with the visiting coach. I went into the POWER dressing room and picked Greg Muhr to come do the scene, explaining that his presence in an otherwise all-Canton telecast could make the difference in getting the game on the air in Chicago. (I would tell you why Bret Hall, who had been the coach the previous weekend in Baltimore & Philadelphia was not there, but I have never learned the truth, and I will not speculate.) There was a positive side to this evening's event. We came back from a seven-point deficit to win. The goal scored when we took the lead marked the first time we had had a lead all season.

Ultimately, I was unable to get this game on the air anywhere in Chicago. But I did have this telecast transferred onto VHS videocassettes. I have the master videotape of the telecast. Keith has a copy of the telecast, and Greg Muhr has a copy as well.
Keith is a good broadcaster who then went on to do all of the INVADERS' broadcasts in their last two seasons in Canton, and any number of broadcasts since then. I believe he is currently engaged with the Cincinnati SAINTS of the North American Soccer League.

There was one more task for our home games I delegated to myself. Providing the musical soundtrack playing in the background. I bought a box of twenty BASF® D-90 audio cassettes (@ Best Buy®), and a dual-deck cassette player | recorder (from A b t Electronics). You can see the contents of many of the mixtapes I compounded at Art Of The Mix.

In December 1994, I learned of a potential local ownership group for the POWER. It was buttressed by Mr. Louis Palivos, who was then the President of the Illinois State Soccer Association. I joined this group. We had between 4-8 people {or entities} which were interested in buying the franchise. Some of the names include people of whom you may have heard. There was the protagonist of League 1 America (a possible competitor to Major League Soccer), Mr. Jim Paglia; the previously mentioned Howard Balson; former POWER player Mr. Tommy Isirov; Mr. Peter Marafatsos, and the President of Kendis Industries, Mr. Hussein Kendy. Another person, who would regale us with his stories of soccer in the 1960's, was Mr. Al(oysius) Kaczmarek. Al was fond of telling us how he got North American Soccer League games televised on CBS-TV; and that he made a profit when he sold the Chicago SPURS to some guy named Lamar Hunt. [Here were our halftime broadcast segments.]

In January 1995, I thought we were going to do it. The final weekend of the month found us scheduled for 3-games-in-3-days: In Dayton on Friday night, in Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon, & in Rockford (our second home) on Sunday afternoon.
We won Friday night. But the budget under which the League was operating the franchise only allowed for rented vans to get from Dayton to Milwaukee. {Curiously, Dayton were also vanning to Buffalo for a game there on Saturday afternoon.} Our investment group decided to attend Saturday and Sunday's games en masse.
On that Saturday afternoon, we were shutout by the WAVE. {The DYNAMO were similarly shutout by Tony Meola and the Buffalo BLIZZARD!} We were beaten again by the WAVE the next afternoon in Rockford, & 66-75% of the attendance was from Milwaukee. We had received hardly any media attention in either Chicago or Rockford. These games left a rancid taste with some of our would-be investors. To them, it was rough enough losing money; but if the team was this bad, and our attempts (albeit with practically no money) at publicity couldn't ensure a crowd cheering for us in our own building, perhaps it was time to reassess. They dropped out.

The POWER players knew by the time of the NPSL All-Star Game break that no one was going to buy the franchise that season. Morale dissipated. We didn't win a game after 23rd February.
(I joked that since you are supposed to do without something you love during Lent, we fasted from victories.) The only positive moment was on St. Patrick's Day when, for our game in New Haven, Connecticut, I executed a deal with the New Haven Brewing Company [also now R.I.P.] to sponsor our special green jerseys that evening.

The flash point came in early March. At another one of our investors' meetings at Louis Palivos' law office, League Commissioner Steve Paxos had an acerbic exchange with some of our people. They were visibly perturbed. When the meeting ended, Louis attempted to placate them, but I could sense they would not invest in the franchise. I estimated that $400,000 left the room that night.

After the end of the 1994-95 season, Louis contacted each prospective investor and asked him or her to commit to buy the franchise. I committed my corporation; P Q R S, Ltd.; to the group in early May. I was revved and ready to go.

We had three options for operation of the team for 1995-96. The first was that we would have enough funds to make all of the decisions for the team. The second would be that we would have less funds, and could make certain choices, but the League would have to approve some of them, and could prohibit them. The third would be that we barely met the level of funds to operate the team for the season. The League would make the decisions concerning the off-field activities, and everything would have to be presented to it before any funds were expended.

We had played outdoor matches versus a variety of teams in the past three summers (NPSL teams like the WAVE, AMBUSH, & DYNAMO; A-League sides Colorado FOXES, Miami FREEDOM, & San Francisco Bay BLACKHAWKS; and select international teams). I felt the way back was to have some outdoor matches at which we could promote our summer soccer camps. [These are solid money-makers for every franchise.] So I began contacting other NPSL teams' general managers to see what their plans for the summer were. The first response I received was from the Detroit ROCKERS. Mr. Mike Zaretti relayed that the ROCKERS had some dates for which they were looking for opponents. One of the dates he mentioned was 1 July. This was good. It gave us a timetable by which to begin cohering. Plus the ROCKERS had Pato Margetic. Pato's name could still be depended upon to sell some tickets in Chicago. I was attempting to marshall all our home games in August and early September. I would not compete on the same day as a USISL match in Chicago, Rockford, or Milwaukee. So I was mostly looking at Sunday afternoons. But the return match v. the ROCKERS would be on Labor Day, at Rockne Stadium in Chicago. I was sure we could fill up this diminutive stadium [Capacity = 4000].

I also sent out one more challenge. I wrote Mr. Peter Richardson, the owner of the Chicago STINGERS of the USISL, and inquired if he would be keen to have a match versus us. I had a date (the Tuesday of the b**eball all-star game) and a venue with an illuminated pitch, Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights; a southern suburb {the STINGERS played their home games in northwest suburban Arlington Heights}). I might have even gotten the game televised on WJYS, channel 62. I felt I would get some free media attention even if the STINGERS declined the match. What happened?
The STINGERS had entered the 1995 U.S. Open Cup competition. In their second round game, they beat the Saint Louis KNIGHTS. They then were given the home field for the next round versus the A-League's New York CENTAURS. The date for that game was one day after what would have been our match. I let the lack of response go unnoted.

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