By Jim Abbott
For starters, Gene Simmons and Klaw look like they both go to the same tailor. Yet the same taste in wardrobe by the Kiss bassist and the Orlando Predators mascot isn't the only reason that the veteran arena-rock band and the Arena Football League are meant to be together.
When Kiss play their role as the league's de facto rock ambassadors with a Friday concert at Amway Center, the band will consummate a marriage made in pop-culture heaven. The show will unfold on the eve of Saturday's ArenaBowl XXVI.
Not since John Fogerty ensured a sound bite in every respectable seventh-inning stretch in baseball with his 1985 song "Centerfield" has a musical act been such a perfect match to a sport.
The Arena League likes to blow things up. So does Kiss.
•The Arena League is willing to bypass the boring stuff for touchdowns, touchdowns, touchdowns on its shortened 50-yard indoor field with the walls ideal for player collisions. With the exception of the maudlin ballad "Beth," Kiss won't make fans wait to rock out.
•The Arena League has faced its occasional battles for respect, with its rosters of not-yet-NFL-caliber athletes and fading NFL stars such as former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Shaun King. Likewise, Kiss has endured its share of arrows from the critics:
"Kiss still lacks that flash of creative madness that could have made their music interesting, or at least listenable," stated a 1976 Rolling Stone review of "Destroyer," the band's first platinum album.
•Both the band and the league are survivors. The guys in Kiss — original members Simmons and Paul Stanley, and additions Eric Singer (drums) and Tommy Thayer (guitar) — are celebrating the band's 40th anniversary. Meanwhile, the Arena Football league marked its 25th anniversary in 2012, a milestone unapproachable by other alternative football leagues, including the one-season failure of the WWE honcho Vince McMahon's XFL in 2001.
For the Arena League, Kiss offers the potential of new fans that might be culled from the worldwide Kiss Army. When the band was recruited to be part of this season's marketing campaign, members did more than incorporate a new song, "Right Here, Right Now," as theme of weekly televised games on cable's CBS Sports Network.