After the Bengals' disappointing finish, will Cincinnati embrace another feline football team?

That's the big question for the Cincinnati Jungle Kats, the newest addition to the Arena Football 2 (af2) league and the third arena football team to try out the Queen City. The two-year run of the Rockers ended in 1993, and the Swarm survived for only a single season in 2003. The Jungle Kats investors are banking on the hope that those teams left us with a lion's share of arena devotees.

And those investors are impressive. Bengals' defensive tackle Sam Adams pounced on the opportunity to lead the Kats' ownership group, which includes Reds star Ken Griffey Jr.

Matt Ulanoff, general manager of the Jungle Kats and former president of Detroit's UHL team, the Motor City Mechanics, believes the town is ready for exciting, affordable family entertainment. This off-season enterprise also should be good for the local economy, he says, pushing fans into restaurants, bars and shops. "Everyone gets their football fix during the off-season."

"The fans have been unbelievable," Ulanoff says. "They call all day long to ask about getting tickets and ask how they can be involved. It's really great." He hopes to far surpass the average Rockers attendance of 13,000. The Jungle Kats home turf at U.S. Bank Arena holds 16,000. "We're going to do our best to fill it."

The af2 league, now in its eighth season, is run by the same regulations as its top-shelf counterpart, the Arena Football League (AFL), with a field measuring only 50 yards from end zone to end zone. That means one certain outcome: a blazing high-scoring pace. "They're throwing the ball all the time," Ulanoff notes.

"The af2 is potentially the league of opportunity," he adds about the players. "It's a free-agent league. We have tryouts and rely on connections."

The Jungle Kats are preparing sharpened claws for March 31, when they kick off the first of 16 games. "We're just thrilled about Cincinnati," Ulanoff exclaims. "We're bringing a first-class organization to the city. We want to be part of the fabric of the community here."

For more information about the Jungle Kats, call (513) 381-TURF, or go to www.junglekatsfootball.com.

"”Jennifer Corso