Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber
On the selection of Kansas City, Kan as the 2013 MLS All-Star host city…
It is truly a pleasure to be back in Kansa City. 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 really throughout North America. This has been one of the great success stories for our sport. We’re very proud of what has taken place here. We have a great respect and tremendous admiration for ownership and great respect with our public partner, who without their support then we wouldn’t be sitting in this beautiful building. We said when we came here for the groundbreaking and for the opening of this stadium that we would be back with special events and we are here today to announce that the 2013 MLS All-Star game will be here in Kansas City in this beautiful new stadium and we are very excited about that.
On the emergence of Kansas City as an MLS market…
This is a unique story I don’t think we could have written many years ago when we started this League in 1996 and thought about where we would have soccer teams. We knew that we needed a soccer team in Kansas City and here we are 17 years later with Sporting Kansas City and a team that resonates so tremendously well in this market. As I mentioned before, there are a lot of reasons why that happens. It starts with great ownership. This is a group that loves the game and I would have to say that they are relatively new to it. When we look around our board table and look for leadership and look for great vision, the ownership at Sporting Kansas City are one of the ownership groups that we count on for good thinking, to continue the kinds of investments that they’ve made in the sport that allow all of us, everybody that lives here in this region to be very proud. So I want to thank all of you -- Cliff, Robb, Pat, Greg and Neal -- it has just been terrific.
On having Kansas City, Kan. as the host city…
We also have a great partner in Mayor Reardon. We talk about how these partnerships have helped enable the growth of the sport in North America. Without that partnership, this beautiful building wouldn’t be here today. I want to really thank you from soccer fans throughout North America but also for everybody at the League office.
On the MLS All-Stars competition in the All-Star Game…
Our All-Star Game will continue with this format of the MLS versus the world. We think it is one of the most exciting All-Star formats in all of professional sports. We are not just playing each other in another game because we do that every weekend and every Wednesday. We are going to go take on some really big guys and hopefully we will be able to stand toe-to-toe wit the great powers. We’ve been able to do that for many, many years. We’ve had some really good games and beaten some really big teams and we’ve taken our lumps. But taking our lumps is part of the growing process in professional sports. Sometime in the next couple of months, Robb and the group will announce who that next opponent will be, but you can assure it’s going to be a world power and somebody that I think will add to this format.
On the selection of a coach for the MLS All-Stars…
Peter Vermes, the Sporting Kansas City coach, will be the coach for the MLS side. That is something that we put together a number of years ago. We figured that if we were going to be here in his stadium, he should have the right to coach our guys against an international club. Somebody’s going to have to call Peter. He is on his way down to our MLS combine and let him know that he is going to be taking that responsibility on. We will release details sometime in the next couple of months on who that opponent is going to be but we will leave that for another press conference.
Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman
On having the opportunity to host the 2013 MLS All-Star Game…
This is a huge honor. It is something as a city that we have worked for very hard. There is nothing that compares to our fans here in Kansas City. You are what make this day possible for us. The stadium is a nice place but what is far better are the people that fill it. On behalf of Cliff and Greg and Pat and Neal and I, we want to thank you Kansas City for giving us that opportunity. I think this is going to be a great day. It is just another event in a long series of fantastic events that we have had here in this stadium. We are honored to be the host. We will do our best to make it as wonderful of an All-Star Game as there ever has been in our League. Don you have our commitment to that. And we look forward to the announcement here in a couple months of whoever the opponent may be. I’m happy for Peter. It is a great thing for Peter, it is a great honor for him and I’m sure he’ll do a great job.
On the team’s partnership with Kansas City, Kan…
This could have never happened if it wasn’t for the great public partner that we have in Kansas City, Kansas and the Unified Government. The vision that the Mayor has always had around what this could become. He was one of the few people that when we said, ‘The League is a growing League but we really think there is an opportunity to do something special here’ and he not for a moment doubted that. We really appreciate that and this wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the Mayor.
Kansas City, Kan. Mayor Joe Reardon
On the selection of Kansas City, Kan. for the 2013 MLS All-Star Game…
There can be no doubt, Kansas City is a soccer city. This is further testament that a partnership between the Unified Government and the great ownership of this franchise has led to an amazing dynamic that’s going on at the stadium. It happens every week when the season is in full swing. The team is amazing and, for those who have been out here know, it is absolutely electric. The venue is phenomenal. The announcement today of having the All-Star Game here further raises the stature of what’s going on around soccer in Kansas City but also this Kansas City region. To be out there and talking about and letting folks see from all over the country the great things that are going on around this city, as well as around soccer in the city is absolutely a phenomenal opportunity for all of us.
And I intend to, as we move forward, rally our community around this All-Star Game to have activities and other events that fully take advantage of what this All-Star Game can mean to the entire Kansas City region and particularly our young people. To get them involved and allow them to be a part of this as well, those are things that we want to work on as we approach that July date. Thank you Commissioner for being here and to have the game here as well. It is absolutely fantastic and is the part of the relationship that as Mayor, I value greatly. And to Robb and the rest of the ownership, there is a lot of talk about public and private partnerships and what they might mean. Here, we have not just talk, but one that we have taken to completion and one that is just now beginning to realize it’s full potential. That is not just a benefit for Kansas City, Kansas, that is a benefit for everyone in this Kansas City region and for the dynamic that we have going on here at each game. We are very much looking forward to July 31. I’ll see you all out here for the game no matter what. It is going to be a phenomenal event and congratulations to Sporting Kansas City.
Question and Answer with Media Members
Q: Where does this rank on the list of goals and visions you set when you took over the club?
A: Robb Heineman
The goal and vision for the club is to win MLS Cup.’s Let’s always be clear, we want to win championships. It is the most important thing to us. But, this is a great day for the city and the stadium and all of us to have an event like this to share. It is the type of event that we always wanted to have and for it to come to fruition this quickly is fantastic for us.
Q: Talk about the partnership between the team, the stadium and the city…
A: Joe Reardon
We have great players but they are community participants too. They are at the Christmas tree lightings; they are out in the community doing great things. They become part of the story in an amazing way and it develops a relationship that goes on between those players, not just when they are on the field but when they are outside the field too. That has developed into something that is really special. To be able to bring the MLS All-Star Game here and really highlight how engaged Kansas City is in soccer, I think is going to be a phenomenal opportunity for us. We are going to see wonderful soccer too. Last year’s game was great against Chelsea. It was fun to watch on TV. Now we are going to get to watch it right here and let the rest of the country see what’s going on around Kansas City and Kansas City, Kansas around soccer. I’m really excited because when the camera pans to the audience, they are going to see great fans and we’ve got great fans in Kansas City and that is something that brings the community together.
Q: How will the All-Star Game impact the local economy?
A: Don Garber
These events bring in thousands of people that will come from around the country. Sporting KC season ticket members have the opportunity to buy tickets but the goal is to share this experience with people from throughout the country. Three or four events will take place and the organization will announce those in due time. It is really a great opportunity over that period of time to bring economic development but also to have some events that will bring some excitement.
A: Joe Reardon
I am excited about it clearly. Village West is built around the idea of events where you can attract folks in. There is a lot you can do right around here, certainly a lot of hotel rooms too. But as the Commissioner says, we are bringing in thousands of people for this game so the impact is going to be on the region as a whole; what a great billboard for the entire region. Folks are going to be all over the city and all over this region during that all-star time and that is going to be a great time to showcase what is going on in Kansas City.
Q: On the selection of soccer-specific venues for the All-Star Game…
A: Don Garber
This was a massive financial commitment between ownership and the public to build this stadium. This stadium deserves to have that platform and that showcase as opposed to bringing it to a larger venue where arguably we could make more money. So this is really about giving back to the ownership and the community but also a great showcase for us to really highlight the development of what will soon be 16 soccer stadiums that have been build throughout the U.S. and Canada. That is billions of dollars in public and private investment in changing the landscape of professional soccer in this part of the world and we are proud of that.