Philadelphia is one of a dozen cities nationwide into which Roller Hockey International glided this year. The franchise is headed by two former Stanley Cup champions.
Dave Schultz is general manager and head coach of the RHI's Philadelphia Bulldogs; Bob Kelly, like Mr. Schultz a former NHL Flyers forward known for fighting, is VP-marketing and promotions.
There's even a Hollywood connection: Actor Tony Danza is a part-owner. He was recruited by another part-owner, Ron Salcer, an agent and friend of Mr. Danza.
"Tony Danza is not from Philadelphia, but he is a Philadelphia kind of guy," said Tom O'Neill, president, O'Neill Del Rosso, Bala-Cynwyd, Pa., the franchise's agency.
Mr. Danza made numerous appearances promoting the team for the season that began early this month and ends in early September.
The Bulldogs also bit into a direct mail program to attract season ticketholders. A premium seat is $220 a season.
Radio spots, featuring Messrs. Schultz and Danza, and a print campaign, tagged "Philadelphia's going to the dogs," broke in mid-June. O'Neill and the staff of the Spectrum, where the Flyers and NBA's 76ers also play, handled creative on the less than $500,000 effort. Harmelin & Associates placed media.
Roller Hockey International is in its second season and has expanded to 24 teams and four divisions in the U.S. and Canada. Corporate sponsors include Karhu, a South Burlington, Vt., pad and hockey stick maker, and Canstar Sports, Swanton, which makes Bauer skates.
Five-member teams, one less than the NHL, wear helmets and face masks, but in-line skates and somewhat less padding than their icebound counterparts. A wide-open style of play generates an average 17 goals a game.
Attendance averaged more than 3,700 a game last season. Anaheim, Calif., the most successful franchise, averaged about 9,000, said Chris Palmer, TV and marketing coordinator of the Los Alamitos-based RHI. He said the Bulldogs could draw about 6,000 people a game.