On Tuesday, Crains Chicago Business published a story stating that the owners of the Sears Centre arena in Hoffman Estates are pushing for the return of the Chicago Rush. The Rush folded at the conclusion of the 2013 Arena Football League season. They folded after numerous financial, logistical, and even legal issues. Things got so bad that the Rush were kicked out of Rosemont's Allstate Arena and played their final home games at the MetroCenter in Rockford.
The team just could not survive three ownership changes in a two year span. The cancellation of the 2009 AFL season adversely affected this franchise and it never recovered. Of course the Rush wouldn't be (hypothetically) the first team to call Hoffman Estates home, the Sears Centre was originally the home of the Chicago Slaughter from 2006-2013. The Slaughter were considered a competitor to the Rush, and played in both the Indoor Football League and the Continental Indoor Football League.
They won the CIFL championship in 2009 with (ironically enough) many Chicago Rush players on their team (due to the 2009 AFL cancellation). Back on January 15th, the Slaughter issued a statement saying that they will not compete in 2014. So perhaps this could open the door for a Rush return. But it will be a lot easier said than done.
There would be some benefits for the Rush to open it's doors again. For starters, the Sears Centre is much cheaper than the Allstate Arena. The Sears Center holds roughly 9,000 fans as opposed to the 17,000 or so at Rosemont. Lower capacity means it would be easier to fill seats and make the team more profitable.
Another benefit would be to have the AFL back in two of the top three media markets in the U.S. (the other market being Los Angeles, home to the L.A. Kiss). The other benefits would be to have another football team to cater to fans until the Bears begin their season, opportunities for players looking for a break, and economical benefits for both the arena and Hoffman Estates.
The Sears Centre is especially hopeful because they are in need of a full-time tenant. The Slaughter is among a list of many failed franchises who called the Sears Centre home. That list also includes the Chicago Express of the East Coast Hockey League (2011-2012), the Chicago Hounds of the United Hockey League (2006-2007), the Chicago Shamrox of the National LaCrosse League (2006-2008), the latter days of the Chicago Storm indoor soccer team (2006-2010, originally played at the UIC Pavilion from 2004-2009), and they were once the home to the Lingerie Football League's Chicago Bliss.
As good as the benefits may be, there are many hurdles that will need to be cleared. The first one being to find a competent owner. One who has the money, means, reputation and business sense to run a pro franchise on a daily basis. The other will be finding a coaching staff who is willing to take on the task of reviving a franchise.
Then there are the issues of rebuilding the fan base, drawing them to the arena, fielding a talented and competitive team, and getting the proper media exposure. On top of that, there is also the task of putting together a marketing and sales staff who will help draw in the revenue. For now, these are just ideas being tossed around and nothing more.
While it would be nice to see the AFL back in Chicago, I don't think it will happen anytime soon. So for now, until I see some real progress, I won't hold my breath. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82