Haines and his partner Glen Goldstein hoped to operate a pair of indoor franchises at Reading’s Santander Arena. The Roar, formed in July 2013, r began play in November 2013. The duo also announced plans for an indoor football team, known as the Pennsylvania Steam, that would begin play in the spring of 2014.
Unlike the doomed Steam, the Roar actually managed to stage a season in Reading. And it was historically awful. The Roar were outscored 375-109 on the season and finished with a record of 1-19. Crowds were an embarrassment for the team’s 10 home dates at Santander Arena (see the archived stream of the team’s 2013 home opener below). To the surprise of no one, the Roar quietly closed their doors sometime in April/May of 2014.
Pennsylvania Roar Video
The Roar debut in Reading at an empty Santander Arena on November 15th, 2013.
The Philadelphia Kixx were a long-running indoor soccer team that enjoyed strong popularity in the City of Brotherly Love for a few years during the late 1990’s. The club was originally founded as a National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) expansion franchise in 1996 by local businessman Ed Tepper.
Tepper was one of the pioneers of the sport of indoor soccer. He more or less stumbled across the sport during a brief stint as owner of the old Philadelphia Wings box lacrosse team that played at the Spectrum in 1974 and 1975. Captivated by the potential of the indoor game, Tepper quickly sold off the Wings to focus on soccer. He was a co-founder of the first pro indoor league, the Major Indoor Soccer League, in 1978. But Tepper had been away from the sport for more than a decade when came back to form the Kixx in 1995. Tepper kept the team until 2002, when he turned over primary ownership to local attorney Jeffrey Rotwitt. Rotwitt would support the club until its demise in 2010.
The Kixx were the top box office draw in the NPSL for three straight years from 1998 to 2000, averaging over 8,000 fans per game. But the team’s fortunes dipped in the 2000’s as Major League Soccer and the rapid growth of the outdoor game relegated a succession of indoor soccer leagues to irrelevance and disarray. The Kixx were further marginalized in 2009 when the Spectrum, their home of 13 years, closed it doors and the team was exiled to the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University. The club went on a hiatus at the end of the 2009-10 season, which turned out to be just a euphemism for going out of business.
The Kixx won two league championships during their fourteen-year run, capturing Major Indoor Soccer League titles in 2002 and 2007.
The Kixx host the Baltimore Blast at the Spectrum, March 24, 2007.
The Kixx claim their second and final MISL championship against the Detroit Ignition, April 2007.
The SharX originated as an expansion franchise in a planned new pro indoor league called the “I-League”, organized by the United Soccer Leagues (USL). The USL was a long-time player in amateur and low-level professional soccer in the United States, serving as an umbrella organization for various men’s and women’s leagues. The frontwoman for the SharX ownership group was Marcie Laumann, the veteran operator of the Hampton Roads Piranhas women’s amateur side in the USL, and a member of the USL’s Hall of Fame. Laumann announce the formation of the SharX in January 2011.
By May of 2011, the I-League attracted only three committed franchises: the SharX, the Rochester Lancers and the Syracuse Silver Knights. Meanwhile, the long-running Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) was floundering with only four clubs. The two leagues agreed to merge with the USL taking over administration of the beleaguered MISL for the 2011-12 season. The MISL identity was retained by the merged loop and the “I-League” name was scrapped.
The SharX never found their footing either on the carpet or with local fans. They finished the 2011-12 season with the worst record (5-19) in the MISL and the lousiest attendance (1,596 per game announced).
The team folded after a single season of play on June 25, 2012 citing “economic hardship”.
This incarnation of the Wichita Wings indoor soccer team was a short-lived brand revival of the original Wichita Wings, which played from 1979 to 2001. The old club was a hot ticket for several years in the early 1980’s, routinely selling out the Kansas Coliseum and inspiring a fanatical fan club known as the Orange Army. Although the Wings’ popularity declined in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, the club managed to hang on for 22 years. During the Wings’ final four seasons from 1997 to 2001, it was the longest-running professional soccer franchise in the United States.
A decade after the original team’s demise, the new Wings were introduced as an expansion franchise in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) on March 4, 2011. By this time, the popularity of indoor soccer was in steep decline across the U.S. and league officials seemed intent on mining every last seam of nostalgia from the sport’s 1980’s heyday. Three of the seven MISL clubs active for the 2011-12 season were recent expansion teams co-opting the identities of old clubs from the 1970’s and 1980’s. The MISL itself was a brand re-boot of a far superior league of the same name to which the original Wings belonged from 1979 to 1992.
New owner Wink Hartman was a wealthy oilman, entrepreneur and Wichita State grad. Hartman had the advantage of owning his own building – 5,000-seat Hartman Arena in Park City, which opened in 2009. He also owned the Wichita Wild indoor football team.
The original Wings garnered national media coverage of their match results in the 1980’s and 1990’s and frequently appeared on cable broadcasts on ESPN, the USA Network, and SportsChannel America. The re-booted Wings and the new MISL were basically a matter of local interest, plus a tiny band of indoor cultists and players’ family members who relied on Twitter, Facebook and internet message boards to follow the team.
The quality of play was also much lower than in the past. The Wings of the 1980’s were loaded with expensive (albeit aging) imports from top flight European leagues. The MISL of the 21st century was largely a winter-time refuge for anonymous players from the low-level American minor leagues. The Wings’ most accomplished player was Jamar Beasley, a veteran of 50 Major League Soccer matches with the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire from 1998-2001 and brother of U.S. National Team mainstay DaMarcus Beasley. Jamar Beasley played for the Wings during their first season in 2011-12.
Even with control of the arena, Wink Hartman found the modern-day MISL to be a money pit and his relationship with the league reportedly soured during the Wings’ second season in 2012-13. In March 2013 Hartman put the team up for sale. When no buyer materialized by late May, press reports emerged that the team would not return for a third season. That same month, Hartman summed up his feelings about his MISL experience in comments to KWCH sports anchorJenn Bates:
“I never saw in two years one person from the MISL come to one of my games, give us support, show up in Wichita to help us with advertising or sponsorships. So, you know, they handed us out a book and took our money, but that was about it.”
Single-camera coverage of a Wings match against the Rochester Lancers at Hartman Arena. February 4, 2012