Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids indoor football franchise selects 'River Kings' as new team name

After seven seasons as the Cedar Rapids Titans, new ownership begins club rebranding effort

Cedar Rapids’ Qua Cox (left), Marcus Hayes (center, top) and Rodney Barnes II (right) bring down Green Bay Blizzard’s Christian LeMay during an Indoor Football League game at the U.S. Cellular Center last season. The franchise will be known as the Cedar Rapids River Kings for the 2019 season. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids’ Qua Cox (left), Marcus Hayes (center, top) and Rodney Barnes II (right) bring down Green Bay Blizzard’s Christian LeMay during an Indoor Football League game at the U.S. Cellular Center last season. The franchise will be known as the Cedar Rapids River Kings for the 2019 season. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids indoor football fans, get ready to welcome the “River Kings.”

The city’s Indoor Football League franchise — which was purchased in June by Los Angeles investment firm Knighted Ventures and its principal owner Roy Choi — revealed the first phase of a rebranding effort on Saturday.

After seven seasons of competition under the name Cedar Rapids Titans, the team will now be called the Cedar Rapids River Kings.

“We felt like it was a great fit,” first-year Cedar Rapids General Manager Ryan Eucker told The Gazette. “It obviously ties in an important geographical feature here in the river itself and then also is a little bit of a tip of the cap to Kingston.”

In 1839, pioneers led by founder David King established the Kingston settlement on the west side of the Cedar River. The community was annexed to Cedar Rapids in 1870 and when the city erected its 15,000-seat stadium at Rockford Road on the southwest side in 1952, the name “Kingston Stadium” was selected from a pool of contest submissions.

“River Kings” was picked from over 300 fan suggestions solicited by the club at its website. Jennifer Hadenfeldt of Cedar Rapids was the first of several entrants to suggest the name and will receive a prize pack from the team that includes a 2019 jersey, T-shirts, hats and game tickets.

Eucker hopes to unveil a new team logo and colors in mid-October.

“That is kind of phase two of our project here,” Eucker said. “I think we have some really cool ideas and concepts in mind that we want to work around that are going to create some additional tie-ins to the community and the history and heritage of Cedar Rapids.”

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A more pressing issue for the franchise is the selection of a head coach. In August, Eucker identified a group of four top candidates that included Marvin Jones, who coached the team to a 3-11 record last season with victories in two of the final three contests. Jones interviewed with Eucker, but ultimately withdrew his name in order to pursue other opportunities.

“He went through the meat-grinder here last year,” Eucker said. “It was a tough situation and certainly not an ideal situation. … He made the absolute best of it with what he had and what he was working with.”

As the search progressed, the number of candidates eventually ballooned to eight. Eucker hopes to have an agreement in place with a new coach next week.

“We are very, very close,” Eucker said.

The 2019 IFL season will begin in February. The River Kings will welcome a pair of new league entrants to the U.S. Cellular Center. The Quad City Steamwheelers of Moline, Ill., are moving to the IFL after one year in the Champions Indoor Football League, while the expansion Tucson (Ariz.) Sugar Skulls are set for their debut.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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