Kansas City won’t be without an arena football team for long. After the Kansas City Command announced that it folded four weeks ago, it looked like the sport might be doomed locally. It was the second time since 2009 that the local Arena Football League closed shop. But Jeremy Ploeger, the vice chairman of the Jackson County Board of Planning and Zoning Adjustments and former sports agent, held a press conference at Brio on the Plaza Thursday to announce that he was here to pick up the pieces and unveil the new club's name.
The new team will be called the Kansas City Renegades and, as previously announced, it will play in the newly formed Champions Professional Indoor Football League. (The revealing of the name was done with all the showmanship that second-tier pro sports teams are known for, as several comely young women in short shorts unbuttoned tight blazers to reveal the Renegade logos on T-shirts.)
“This is our motto of the Kansas City Renegades: If you are not 100 percent satisfied when you come out to the game, if you’re not happy, if you don’t enjoy your experience, we will give your money back,” he said.
That was the first indication that Ploeger, wearing a suit with a four-point pocket square, is not short on confidence. A first-time team owner with a self-proclaimed “natural gift” for sales, Ploeger insists that he knows how to run a successful arena football team.
“The Brigade never actually failed,” he argues about the failed team that initially played at Kemper Arena. “When they went to the Sprint Center, they priced [fans] out. The highest ticket was a hundred bucks, the cheapest ticket was $18. And you missed the tailgating. It cost you $20 to park and you had to walk to it.”
He says returning to the West Bottoms will give fans what they want.
“It’s about a football experience — tailgating, enjoying your atmosphere before the game — and that’s why we are happy to be back at Kemper Arena,” he tells The Pitch.
Ploeger, who ran unsuccessfully for the Missouri House in 2010, balks when asked to place the CPIFL in the hierarchy of professional indoor football leagues. He denies that the CPIFL, which features teams only in the Midwest, is a minor league and scoffs at the idea that the AFL is top of the sport at the moment.
“I challenge any AFL team to come play in Kansas City. We’ll beat anybody,” he says. “The difference between the AFL and us is the AFL paid $1.6 million to be on the NFL Network. If I wanted to go spend $1 million to be on NFL Network, they would broadcast our games.”
The team’s schedule hasn’t been set yet, but the Renegades will be on the field next spring for the league’s 12-game season. Ploeger says the ticket prices will range from $10 to $35.
And Ploeger has a message for currently unemployed and legally challenged former NFL star wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Chad Johnson: “If [they] want to play some football, they can play for us. We’ll sign them.”