Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids River Kings working to rebuild community relationships in 2019

River Kings open 2019 Indoor Football League season Feb. 23 at the U.S. Cellular Center

The Cedar Rapids River Kings open the 2019 Indoor Football League season on Saturday, Feb. 23 against the Sioux Falls Storm at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The Cedar Rapids River Kings open the 2019 Indoor Football League season on Saturday, Feb. 23 against the Sioux Falls Storm at the U.S. Cellular Center.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Ryan Eucker will spend his Saturday producing 450 feet of vinyl.

With the beginning of the 2019 Indoor Football League season just a week away, there is still much work to be done for the first-year general manager of the Cedar Rapids River Kings.

The vinyl will be used for signage and sponsorship opportunities within the U.S. Cellular Center. A River Kings logo is being produced and will be affixed to midfield. Game day operations, including the game script, the expectations of the disc jockey, public-address announcements, on-field promotions and the television broadcast still need to be finalized.

Even with a workload of that size, getting out in the community and educating fans and businesses about the new direction of the franchise is paramount.

“A lot of people still to meet and still to talk to,” Eucker said during an open scrimmage Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Center. “So trying to work through those relationships and get to know the folks here in town. Past sponsors, new sponsors, you name it. Just trying to work to get those relationships going and get them excited and up to date on what we’ve got going on with the team.”

After seven years as the Cedar Rapids Titans, the franchise was sold in June to Roy Choi and Matt Stone of Los Angeles. Eucker was hired the following month with a full understanding of the challenges that lay ahead.

The team had only won four games in two years. Attendance was down. Some local businesses had gone unpaid for services rendered to the club.

“It’s going to take some time, we understand that,’ Eucker said. “There were some issues with the past. I hate to harp on what had been over the past few years. Obviously, they were able to put a team here for seven seasons, which by indoor and arena football standards is a feat to say the least. We have to earn those opportunities back.”

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Eucker and his staff have established or renewed partnerships with over 30 local business and have worked with the U.S. Cellular Center to get ticket prices reduced to as low as $7 for a balcony seat. Eucker encourages fans to bypass normal ticket surcharges and fees by ordering them through the club office at 319-382-9339 and receive the best possible rate.

“A lot of sit-downs, face to face, shaking hands, getting to know folks,’ Eucker said of his meetings with prospective sponsors. “Showing the different things that we’re doing here as an organization and keeping organized and providing them with a good opportunity, obviously, for advertising and return on their investment in terms of what they are putting into the team and what they can hopefully get back and see here over the course of the season in being a partner with us.”

Eucker described the financial support from Choi and Stone as “fantastic.” A sizable financial commitment was made to obtain new football equipment, a new dasher board pad system to protect the players against wall collisions, plus a replacement for the much-maligned playing surface itself.

“Just those little pieces should show plenty of fans and folks out here in the community that they’ve put their money where their mouth is and have definitely invested and put money into this community,” Eucker said. “That not only supports the team but that we’re spending here locally and working to leverage those local partnerships and relationships and really build something here that lasts in Cedar Rapids.”

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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