MLS Thursday officially announced that K.C.'s Livestrong Sporting Park will host the league's All-Star Game on July 31, allowing the city to “take a turn in the national sports spotlight for the second straight summer," according to Tod Palmer of the K.C. STAR. MLB’s All-Star Game last year was played at Kauffman Stadium. The MLS game will be “broadcast on ESPN and Univision and shown in more than 100 countries.” Sporting K.C. CEO Robb Heineman said, “With all due respect to our (All-Star Game), I’m not sure it will be quite the pomp and circumstance that baseball had obviously, but I think we’ll do a heck of a job,” K.C. Mayor Joe Reardon said, “To be able to bring this MLS All-Star Game here and really highlight how engaged Kansas City is with soccer, I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity. It’s going to be great.” MLS Commissioner Don Garber: “This has been one of the great success stories for our sport. We’re very proud of what’s taken place here” (K.C. STAR, 1/11). Garber added, “This market has just been so incredibly exciting for all of us at Major League Soccer, and really for soccer fans throughout the United States and North America.” The AP’s Dave Skretta noted in the past few years, MLS has “brought its All-Star games to the smaller, soccer-specific stadiums that have popped up in its markets across the country” (AP, 1/10).
Events and Attractions
Saturday marks the "end of an era" for MMA promotion Strikeforce, as it will "air a final event" on Showtime at 10:00pm ET from Oklahoma City, according to Ben Fowlkes of USA TODAY. Strikeforce Founder & CEO Scott Coker said that he "never guessed that 27 years later he'd be watching the organization he created take its final bow on the national stage." Strikeforce's ambitions at first "were strictly local," as it operated "mainly out of HP Pavilion" in San Jose. Strikeforce in '09 purchased MMA promoter ProElite. Coker said, "That's when I think Strikeforce became a national promotion and basically went from four shows a year in our local arena here to 16 events a year all over the country." But Coker said that his partners "felt it was time to get out of the MMA business" when UFC parent company Zuffa "made an offer to buy out its largest competitor" (USA TODAY, 1/10). USA TODAY's Matt Erickson notes most of the fighters on Saturday's card "have been given no guarantees they'll be folded into UFC" (USA TODAY, 1/11).
END OF AN ERA: In N.Y., Marc Raimondi wrote, "Strikeforce had to die. There was just no other way." Did anyone "really believe that UFC’s parent company, Zuffa, would be able to run another major-league MMA organization alongside its big cash cow?" Strikeforce’s best "hope under the Zuffa banner was as a minor-league feeder system." It is "bittersweet. ... And it is what's best for the fans" (NYPOST.com, 1/9). Coker when asked about promoting and including female fighters said, "To me, it wasn't a hard decision at all because in Strikeforce Kickboxing we had many female fighters and some of the best fights we had in the Kickboxing series on ESPN were female fights. ... It was more of a state licensing issue." He added the fight between Gina Carano and Cris "Cyborg" Santos was "another pinnacle in the history of our company." Coker was asked about any mistakes he made and said, "I would have more protection, more security at the cage for the Jake Shields-Dan Henderson fight. ... That was live on CBS." Coker said his next step "will be working for Zuffa." Coker: "As far as roles and responsibilities, I'll probably come out to Vegas in the next couple of weeks and sit down with [UFC co-Chair & CEO Lorenzo Fertitta] and everybody there and figure that part out" (SI.com, 1/9).