CEDAR RAPIDS — While the first season of indoor football may not have been a success on the field for the Cedar Rapids Titans, the team did catch — and keep — the attention of many.
Despite a 4-10 record, the Titans proved to be a hit at the box office, selling out four of eight home games and averaging more than 3,500 fans per game at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. All home games were televised locally and, if you judge by all the signage around the arena, advertisers were sold on the team as well.
“We just received a tremendous response from the community,” said Titans’ co-owner and general manager Chris Kokalis. “It was above and beyond our expectations.
“The fans are amazing and the community has embraced this team like it has been here for 10 years. We want to be here for a long, long time. That is what we want to build here.”
Kokalis said the key to getting and keeping the community’s attention was the involvement shown by all involved with the organization, from ownership down to the players and all in between.
“Hats off to my staff and these players and coaches who go out in the community,” he said. “That has been our big marketing chip, getting people from our organization out in the community and giving back as much as we possibly can.”
In that light, Kokalis said the team is finalizing plans for programs at The Sports Zone in Hiawatha. The facility, which has indoor and outdoor soccer facilities along with batting cages and a basketball court, also served as the team’s practice facility this season.
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“We’ll be announcing plans for that later in the summer,” Kokalis said. “We have a lot of big things in the works out there.”
As facilities are concerned, the ice arena had its pros and cons. The intimate atmosphere made it tough on opposing teams. But a low ceiling and a hanging scoreboard in the center of the field made things difficult in the kicking game, which plays a big role in the indoor game. The original plan was for the Titans to play this one season at the ice arena and move to the renovated U.S. Cellular Center for 2013. Construction delays have changed those plans.
Kokalis did not address the situation involving the construction delays, but had high praise for the ice arena.
“This is an amazing building,” he said. “It is one of the loudest buildings in the league. From a fan’s prospective, this is a great place to watch an indoor football game.”
It hasn’t all been smooth for the Titans in their first season. Kokalis admits his organization doesn’t have the number of staff members other organizations possess.
“We aren’t blessed to have as many people as the (Cedar Rapids) Kernels and the (Cedar Rapids) RoughRiders have,” he said. “We got to make it with a small staff and the interns. They do a great job going out and putting on a great show every night out.”
As Kokalis watched Saturday night’s 2012 finale, he already was looking ahead to bigger and better things.“I know a lot of people will say that the season ended tonight,” he said. “It’s just getting started for us, so we’re excited.”