Minor League Sports

2 teams, same owners as Cedar Rapids River Kings host expansion San Diego Strike Force

Both teams seek first IFL win of 2019 on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center

KJ Jenkins of the Cedar Rapids River Kings (24) tries to evade Charles Williams of the Sioux Falls Storm (11) during the first half of an Indoor Football League game at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, February 23, 2019. (Cliff Jette /The Gazette)
KJ Jenkins of the Cedar Rapids River Kings (24) tries to evade Charles Williams of the Sioux Falls Storm (11) during the first half of an Indoor Football League game at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, February 23, 2019. (Cliff Jette /The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Roy Choi has guaranteed himself a victory on Saturday night.

The first-year owner of the Cedar Rapids River Kings indoor football team is not engaging in brash overconfidence. Five months after Choi and fellow owner Matt Stone purchased the Cedar Rapids franchise, the pair also signed on as owners of an expansion team in San Diego.

Saturday, the River Kings and San Diego Strike Force will meet on the field for the first time. Kickoff for the Indoor Football League contest is set for 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center.

“It’s like when I am asked or if I am ever asked which of my kids I favor,” Choi said with a laugh. “You know what my answer is going to be.”

Originally, Choi and Stone were going to have a limited minority stake in the San Diego franchise. As the start of the 2019 IFL season loomed, an increased commitment was necessary for the club to be ready for play.

“I didn’t really plan to spend a lot of time on it,” said Choi, 44. “Circumstances led to me having to become more active. The last few weeks was just scampering to try to put things together for the first home game. That was a really challenging period.”

Cedar Rapids and San Diego are both winless through two games. The River Kings were routed at Arizona on Sunday, 81-37. Choi was in attendance for the home opener against Sioux Falls on Feb. 23 at the U.S. Cellular Center, where the River Kings were undone by a last-second field goal in front of 1,117 fans.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of attendance and the flow of the game,” said Choi, the principal owner of the Los Angeles-based investment firm Knighted Ventures. “But I thought it went really well. I think (Cedar Rapids General Manager) Ryan (Eucker) did a great job of engaging the community again. We got really good feedback from the fans after the game and they promised that they would do whatever they could to provide support and get other fans engaged. That was a really, really enjoyable part of the night for me was speaking to the fans and feeling their appreciation.”

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Even with the scramble that was his ascension to majority owner in San Diego, Choi insists that it is not an interim role. He is prepared to forge ahead with both franchises.

“I’d like to be all systems go with both,” Choi said. “Unless my involvement hurts one team or the other. As long as I feel like I am being helpful and the team feels like I am being helpful to be a part of it, I would like to be part of both.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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