SBJ/July 29-August 4, 2013/Events and Attractions

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  • Concerts headline MLS All-Star events in K.C.

    Sporting Kansas City President Robb Heineman summed up his expectations for the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star Game in his team’s city when he said, “We may be a small market, but we’re going to put on a good show.”

    Five days of events culminate on Wednesday with a match at Sporting Park pitting MLS all-stars against AS Roma of the Italian league Serie A. Many of the league events take place at Kansas City’s downtown Power & Light District, which will host a concert by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on Monday.

    At past MLS all-star games, the league has featured performers like Christina Aguilera well before reaching the peak of their popularity, but not current stars like Macklemore and Lewis, whose songs “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” are among the biggest hits of 2013.

    “The credit goes to AT&T,” said David Wright, senior vice president of MLS and Soccer United Marketing. “They’re the ones who secured Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for our event.”

    More than 10,000 fans are expected to attend the concert, and another 10,000 are expected at a Tuesday concert featuring the Silversun Pickups. Tickets for both concerts were free and distributed by Sporting KC at matches and through radio promotions.

    More than a dozen league sponsors will be activating in Kansas City this week. Besides serving as title sponsor of the match and co-presenting (with BlackBerry) the concerts at the Power & Light District, AT&T will promote its “It Can Wait” campaign, which cautions fans about the dangers of texting while driving.

    Game title sponsor AT&T helped secure Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for a Monday night concert downtown.

    Among other activations, Volkswagen will launch an initiative called “Never Stop Playing” that encourages youth soccer players to continue playing the game. The Volkswagen Parade on Monday night will be a public procession of the MLS all-stars in Volkswagen vehicles through downtown Kansas City. Volkswagen also will have a 200-space VIP parking lot at Sporting Park where Volkswagen owners can park closest to Soccer Celebration, the league’s sponsor activation site.

    Electronic Arts plans to spotlight its “FIFA 14” game, which will be released in September. At the league’s official party on Tuesday at the Power & Light District, EA will host a tournament with four MLS all-stars playing four members of Sporting KC in a game of “FIFA 14.” Additionally, leading up to the event, EA’s “In the Game” Challenge, in which fans voted a player to the all-star team by scoring a goal with him while playing “FIFA 13,” was considered a success by the company. Montreal forward Marco di Vaio received more than 73,000 votes to be named an all-star. In all, more than 488,000 votes were cast.

    “We spoke with MLS about how we could get involved in some way with the real world of sports,” said David Pekush, EA’s senior global marketing manager, explaining the genesis of the “In the Game” effort. “We’re thrilled with the results. MLS and EA have the same goal of growing the game in North America. The league does it in the real world, and we do it 365 days a year online.”

    Additional all-star plans by MLS sponsors include:

    Budweiser: Local pub activations on Monday and Tuesday, a Build-A-Bar set up at Sporting Park and Kansas City Speedway, and custom MLS All-Star Game collateral such as glassware and scarves.

    Castrol: Four player appearances at Kansas City retail outlets, and hosting a soccer freestyle show at the Power & Light District.

    Continental Tire: VIP packages for the game, with tickets, transportation and premium items.

    El Jimador: Presence at Soccer Celebration, and signage around the Power & Light District.

    Gatorade: Hydration “trees” in all four corners of the pitch at Sporting Park, providing drinks for players during the All-Star Game.

    Makita: Showcasing new tools and equipment at Soccer Celebration.

    Microsoft: Brand ambassadors taking fans through a demo of the MLS app for Windows 8.

    Pepsi: Co-branded signage at more than 60 local retailers, and sampling at Sporting Park.

    The Home Depot: Hosting a series of soccer “chalk talk” events at the Power & Light District.

    Visa: Sweepstakes program at eight local retailers to drive MLS gear sales and Visa purchases, and a gift-with-purchase program on game day.

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