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Joe Kapp to Coach New L.A. Team : Arena football: The sport attempts comeback in city. Club will play at Sports Arena.

March 06, 1992|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hoping the second time around will be better than the first, the Arena Football League announced Thursday that it will return to Los Angeles, beginning June 6 at the Sports Arena.

The new team will be the Los Angeles Wings, with Joe Kapp as coach and director of football operations.

The league tried the Los Angeles market in 1988, when the Cobras played for one season at the Sports Arena.

Despite a a 5-7-1 record, the Cobras came within one game of reaching the Arena Bowl--the championship game--but never built a strong following.

After that season, league financial problems led to the folding of the Los Angeles franchise by owners Byron Lasky and Irving Zeiger.

Now, four years later, league founder James Foster is back and says this time the league is stronger and better organized.

"We feel that since we are now U.S. patented and that we have stronger ownership, the league is better," Foster said. "We're not here in any respect to be in competition with the NFL. We offer something totally different."

Jim Hartman, a Denver entrepreneur, selected Kapp as coach because of his football background.

Kapp, a quarterback who led California to its last Rose Bowl appearance in 1958, also played in the Super Bowl and the Grey Cup, and has coached in the Canadian Football League and at California.

"I see this as an opportunity for Joe Kapp to get back into football," Kapp said. "I've seen a lot of history in football and I see fun and exciting football with this league."

Arena football is played indoors on a synthetic-surfaced field 50 yards by 85 feet. It has eight players going both ways instead of offensive and defensive specialists. Quarterbacks and kickers are exceptions.

Each team is allowed to keep 18 players on a roster with a two-man taxi squad. The game is played with narrowed field-goal uprights, padded sideline barriers and end zone nets that allow the football to remain in play.

The league, which had eight teams last season, will have four other other expansion teams--Arizona in the Phoenix area, San Antonio, Charlotte and Cincinnati.

They will join holdover franchises in Albany, N.Y.; Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa.

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