Chicago RIOT 2010-11 M. I. S. L. season review

It isn't easy composing an indoor soccer team. Especially when you have only fifteen days in which to do so.

But it happened. The Major Indoor Soccer League [III] nearly suffered a lethal blow in October 2010. Two of its teams, in Rockford, IL., & Philadelphia, PA., said they would not be participating in the 2010-11 season. No reason was given. Pragmatic speculation was that it was caused by finances. Then, a third team, in Monterrey, NL., Mexico, asked for a year off due to its home arena having been grievously damaged by a hurricane.

This left the M.I.S.L. with only four teams committed to play: Baltimore, MD.; Milwaukee, WI.; and two new teams in Independence, MO. (Kansas City); and Omaha, NE. To have any semblance of a balanced season, another team was needed.
Mr. Peter Wilt, who was then the President of the Milwaukee WAVE franchise, proferred that he could compose a team to play in Chicago. Perhaps this was “What if?” thinking, or perhaps it was serious.
But in either instance, the league opted in.

The new franchise called upon some people Peter Wilt knew when he was the general manager of the Chicago FIRE (M.L.S.): Tom Dunmore, & Charlie Corr. Jeff Kraft, who had been the head coach of Rockford, was migrated into that position with Chicago. But this new club was not going to be “Rockford” with a new name across its kit.

The most daunting part for the franchise was going to be finding a venue where to play home games. Again; this was not going to be a club which had "Chicago" on its kit, but played in Rockford. The venue had to be in metropolitan Chicago.
It found that venue, albeit with strings attached, in the Odeum Sports & Expo Center in Villa Park, IL. (a distant western suburb of Chicago ~ actually in Du Page County)
What were the strings? Due to the long-standing contracts of “amateur” soccer leagues playing indoor soccer at the Odeum, the team could only get dates on Sunday evenings. Further, due to the imbalanced number of teams in the M.I.S.L., Chicago would have only eight home games in a twenty-game season.

The franchise was introduced to the Chicago market on Tuesday, 26 October 2010. The date of its first M.I.S.L. match was Friday, 19 November 2010 (in Baltimore).
There was no time for a conventional media promotion campaign. The franchise would be pioneering real-time, viral, and social marketing for an indoor soccer club. They couldn't “go by the book” on this because the book has not yet been scribed.
They also managed to scarf a nickname which has not been overused: RIOT.

So how did they do? {Exhales.} Somebody had to finish last in the league. I didn't attend every game, or even every home game. But a 5-15 record, with two of those victories against league champion Baltimore, should show that for a team thrown together on short notice, they were capable.
They didn't do well at putting people in the stands. Pioneers are not usually the ones who prosper from their pioneering moves. But I think the viral marketing campaign can be fruitful. It needs time and effort. More than they were able to invest in it this past season.
If you will (& I suspect they would agree), the RIOT "took one for the M.I.S.L."
They were better than my 12-68 POWER teams. They were better than the Massachusetts TWISTERS. [I will have mercy. You look them up.]

It can be posited that the M.I.S.L. is rebounding. The Wichita (KS.) WINGS have been announced for 2011-12. Credible reports have Detroit, MI. also entering the league next season. The resumption of play by Philadelphia would not be as surprising as at this time last year. If you're into deeper speculation, would Cleveland, OH. be a really good market now that its sports fans have turned away from basketball (and Cleveland had indoor soccer championship teams)?

Across the U.S.A., other leagues are playing indoor soccer on a regional basis. The Professional Arena Soccer League is mostly on the west coast. The United Soccer Leagues, which began in 1985-86 as an indoor soccer combine in Texas and New Mexico, shall be reconfiguring its "I"-League for 2011-12. (It has announced one franchise in Rochester, NY.)
Some commentators I respect [including one who will not let me read his Tweets] have related that indoor soccer was a fad in the 1980s. But that doesn't mean it cannot again occupy a solid, & profitable niche in the sports pantheon of the U.S.A. (& Canada, & maybe Mexico)

Return to my Soccer entry page.