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Yellow Jackets Invading Philadelphia

by Fran Stuchbury
August 14, 2015 - American Indoor Football (AIF)

When American Indoor Football awarded an expansion team to Philadelphia, the Yellow Jackets, it was intriguing because of the involvement of owner Joe Krause. No stranger to the Philadelphia market, Krause served as the Vice President of Sales for the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul for over six years.

Nearly 12 years after the 2003 press conference announcing the Philadelphia Soul would join the AFL, another indoor football launched in the City of Brotherly Love. Krause officially introduced the new AIF team at McFadden's Saloon Ballpark earlier this week.

"I got hooked on Arena Football in 2007 and 2008 when I worked with the Philadelphia Soul," Krause explained. "When the Soul won ArenaBowl XXII in 2008... and the connection the team had with their fan base to this day is a memory I will take with me when I leave this world."

Krause also loves the game because of the intimate connection the players have with fans. When he started the semi-pro Indoor Gridiron League four years ago, it was with the goal of ultimately converting a team to a professional team. Krause reached an agreement with AIF.

"It's a great market," stated AIF CEO John Morris. "It is exciting and it fits well into our footprint. It will help keep the travel budget down. To have Philadelphia play against AIF teams in York, Reading and Buffalo accomplishes that."

The Yellow Jackets will play four home games, of an eight-game regular season schedule, at Class of '23 Arena on the University of Penn. The facility has a capacity of 2,800 seats and 1,400 general admission standing room seats on the second level. Last season the Army-Navy Arena Football Veteran's Game was held there.

"Due to the deal I have with the arena, I have value to offer the season ticket holders that includes food and pricing," offered Krause.

According to Krause, the Yellow Jackets are offering fans an investment opportunity for the first 250 fans who make a $300 investment.

  • Lifetime Season Ticket Holder, Includes all Post Season Games
  • Common Stock ownership (one share of common stock per season ticket purchased)
  • VIP Seating in the Arena (seating in first two rows of Class of '23 Arena)
  • Complimentary VIP Parking
  • Complimentary Pre-Game Tailgate
  • Post-game field pass
  • Autographed Yellow Jackets Football in Year One
  • Jar of Bee-Lieve Honey
  • Team Bus Trip Annually

"The stock ownership for the fans is my way of connecting fans to the team," Krause answered when asked if the Yellow Jackets will get through the season if enough fans don't invest. "If I didn't sell any of those lifetime passes, I am prepared to complete the season. We're already doing well from a sponsorship standpoint. I will be able to announce three major sponsorships, not counting the one announced with Vicis Helmets. We're going do really well and my top priority is the fans."

All of the Yellow Jackets games will be broadcast on 610 ESPN Radio, home and away.

Krause also said the Yellow Jackets will have a recognizable public address announcer, a voice familiar with Philadelphia sports. A local television deal is in the works, and Krause stated all games will be streamed on the Yellow Jackets website. The stream won't be an arena feed off the scoreboard, but a professionally produced television broadcast with color and play by play commentators.

The Yellow Jackets plan to offer fans one bus trip for a road game and will ask season ticket holders where they would want to go. Krause stated the team will offer as many buses as necessary to accommodate all fans.

When Krause worked with the Philadelphia Soul, the team took 14 buses with a 54 seat capacity each to see a game against the New York Dragons. It was a great experience for Soul fans, and the Yellow Jackets hope a road bus trip will have a similar impact. It could help fans bond more with the players.

The Yellow Jackets further announced that their head coach will be Mike Brown who played six seasons of Arena Football, four of them with the Philadelphia Soul as a wide receiver/defensive back. In 2008 he was a member of the team that won the ArenaBowl, 59-56, over the San Jose SaberCats. Brown later served as a defensive coordinator for the Utah Blaze and San Antonio Talons.

Brown cited Krause as one of the reasons he wanted to coach the team. Brown was also eager to work in Philadelphia again.

"The city of Philadelphia; this was my home away from home for numerous years, six years that I played here," he said. "I love this city; the city showed me so much love and I look forward to bringing a championship here."

Brown said the Yellow Jackets plan to start holding tryouts in November. The offensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets will be former Soul player Keita Crespina, while other coaches will be announced in the near future. The team plans to carry 24 players on its roster and a couple of them will play both offense and defense.

Ron James who was the head coach of the Utah Blaze while Brown was their defensive coordinator praised the new head coach.

"Mike is a great motivator and will get the most out of his players," said James. "He has the ability to reach players at every position. The Yellow Jackets are fortunate to have a coach of his caliber leading them in their inaugural season."

"He knows the game of football," Krause said of Brown. "He will be a great teacher of the game of football. He was one of the top three players on the 2008 Soul team that won the championship; he is respected and the fan base loves him in Philadelphia."

Brown stated he wants players of character who will play hard for him.

Off the field, Krause has a special place in his heart for veterans of the armed services. No veteran who has ever served will ever have to pay for a ticket see a Yellow Jackets game, stated Krause. He said he will never accept their money at the door for a ticket.

"The one thing I wanted to do in my life and never was able to do was to serve in the military," explained Krause. "My way of serving is giving back to those that have served, so it was a very deep passion of mine."

As far as being involved in the community, the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets will be involved in the first Veterans Parade on November 8th. Krause said the Yellow Jackets don't just want players to play football, they want them involved in the community. He outlined the three cornerstones of the franchise as playing for veterans, community and opportunity.

The team plans to co-exist with the AFL Philadelphia Soul and not be a competitor with them. They plan to spread and build more fans for both teams.

"I love the Soul; they are the gold standard of the AFL," said Krause. "If our AIF season is ending in June, the Soul's season with the playoffs carries on in the month of August. We plan to drive a new fan base into the Soul."

There are no official affiliations between any AFL teams or other leagues, so any player from any other league needs to be released and clear a physical in order to play in the AFL. Players from the Yellow Jackets can't move up to the Philadelphia Soul without that happening first.

"I think they will be driven by the curiosity, by the name of the Yellow Jackets," Krause responded when asked why new fans should attend a Yellow Jackets game. "Our brand of football will look similar to what they may or may not know. We will be the gold standard of the AIF; it won't take us very long to be able to get to that point because that is a priority for us."

Krause has a plan in place, strong ties to the Philadelphia area and a lot of connections. He would love to have an undefeated 2016 season much as last season's AIF champion the York Capitals who had members of their staff in attendance and brought the AIF Championship Trophy with them.

Expect more announcements from the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets over the next few months.




Images from this story

Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Head Coach Mike Brown Addresses the Crowd
Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Head Coach Mike Brown Addresses the Crowd

Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Master of Ceremonies Bill Osborn
Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Master of Ceremonies Bill Osborn

American Indoor Football CEO John Morris at the Podium
American Indoor Football CEO John Morris at the Podium

Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Owner Joe Krause Addresses the Crowd
Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Owner Joe Krause Addresses the Crowd

Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Head Coach Mike Brown with Cheer Team Members Jade, Samantha and Kate
Philadelphia Yellow Jackets Head Coach Mike Brown with Cheer Team Members Jade, Samantha and Kate

AIF Championship Trophy
AIF Championship Trophy

(Fran Stuchbury)

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