MLS Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Portland Mayor Charlie Hales yesterday announced that the ‘14 MLS All-Star Game “will be played at Jeld-Wen Field,” according to Geoffrey Arnold of the Portland OREGONIAN. Paulson said, "This is going to be the first major all-star game in the history of Portland." The selection of Portland “wasn't a major surprise,” but the official announcement “has the town buzzing a year in advance.” The game will “provide a unique opportunity to place Portland on the global stage.” No announcement was made “about the opponent, partly because the European teams' regular season schedule runs from August to May.” adidas serves as a “major sponsor” of MLS and its North American HQs are based in Portland, thus making it “probably a good bet that the company will help in bringing a big-name team as the opponent for the game.” Garber said that the “exact date of the game hasn't been decided.” Fans attending the game “will likely experience a bigger and longer all-star event than in the past.” The league is “elevating the profile of the game by scheduling more and more events during the days leading up to the game, similar to what the NBA does with its All-Star weekend and the NFL does during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.” Paulson said, "We're thinking about some new things that we can do, things that MLS has never done in an all-star game” (Portland OREGONIAN, 7/11).
Events and Attractions
VIP ticket holders for the Messi & Friends exhibition soccer match Saturday at Soldier Field "not only didn’t get a promised meeting" with La Liga club FC Barcelona F Lionel Messi, they also claim promoters "have not offered any formal explanations or promises of compensation," according to Jack McCarthy of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Miami-based promoter Numero 5 Producciones reportedly had "promised refunds to more than 75 VIP ticket holders who spent up to $2,500 for a premium package for the charity all-star game." But ticket holder Holli Alexandra Towe yesterday said, "We have received no formal communication from the promoter, nor any refunds." Towe said that a "group of 47 VIP ticket holders banded together to seek compensation." At least two other attendees also "contacted the Tribune with similar complaints." Messi "failed to attend scheduled pre- and postgame events." The exhibition games were "originally envisioned as a four-city tour to benefit Messi’s charities," but the games "drew poorly in South America while a scheduled match in Los Angeles was called off after a payment dispute" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/11). Chicago ticket holder Tony Sherwood said that fans "received a T-shirt with a screen print autograph and a ball" with Messi's signature, but "not what they were promised." USA TODAY's Laken Litman reports Sherwood got a "full refund thanks to Visa." The credit card company indicated that it "had enough evidence to dispute" the charge and that it would "refund his money right away, and they would go after Numero 5" (USA TODAY, 7/11).
DING ON HIS REPUTATION: In L.A., Kevin Baxter wrote Messi's "goodwill tour of the Americas may have done more to damage the Argentine soccer great's reputation than it did to fill the coffers of his charity foundation" (LATIMES.com, 7/10). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser called the Messi tour a "complete debacle." Kornheiser: "People paid $2,500 thinking that they were going to meet Messi before the game. No. During the game? No. After the game? No. You know what he did after the game? ... He got on a plane and he went to Ibiza." ESPN's Michael Wilbon noted the team of All-Stars that played against Messi included several former local college players and said, "It appears to be fraudulent on every level. ... I'm sure his people will say, 'Wait a minute, we didn't explicitly promise.' But the understanding is there when your name is on something, so you committed a fraud" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/9).
LET'S CHAT: AD AGE's Anita Chang Beattie reported Chinse messaging app WeChat is "stepping up its courtship of users outside its home market" and is beginning an "international ad campaign" featuring Messi. China-based Internet service provider Tencent spokesperson Katie Lee said that the company has "previously promoted the app in markets such as Thailand, India and Mexico using local celebrities, but the Messi campaign is the first time Tencent's using a single ad to target multiple markets." The campaign "targets 15 markets" -- including Messi's native Argentina and Spain, where he plays professionally -- but not the U.S. (ADAGE.com, 7/10).
Organizers of the upcoming Guinness Int'l Champions Cup are "about to saturate the market with an advertising blitz ranging from living billboards to helicopters trailing soccer-field-length banners," according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. Teams will compete in a 12-day tournament across the U.S. that "culminates with the championship rounds" at Miami's Sun Life Stadium Aug. 6-7. All eight teams for the inaugural event will "play in a pair of doubleheaders at Sun Life Stadium." Organizers said that sellout crowds of 70,000 are "expected both nights, and ticket sales have been strong so far." RSE Ventures President & CEO Matt Higgins said, "Starting next week, you won’t be able to go anywhere in Miami without running into some type of promotion for the ICC. We want people to realize this is not just a bunch of friendlies. This is a real preseason tournament with eight of the most famous teams in the world." Kaufman noted in addition to the soccer matches, there will be "concerts, a food festival, interactive games and autograph sessions with soccer legends" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/10).