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With a little less than a month or so to go, Kansas City, Kan., is nearly ready for the Major League Soccer All-Star game to be played July 31 at Sporting Park in the Village West area of Kansas City, Kan.
It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, according to Bridgette Jobe, executive director of the Kansas City, Kan., Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The thing so exciting about this is there will be so many eyes on Kansas City,” Jobe said. “Soccer is viewed by countries all over the world. There will be a whole new set of eyes on Kansas City.”
The CVB has put together a plan of activities surrounding the game. Jobe said the CVB wants to make sure visitors feel very welcome, first of all, and then create ways for the community to be engaged in the event.
With tickets to the game selling out shortly after they went on sale, the CVB has encouraged two watch parties in Kansas City, Kan., for residents to attend, watch the game on big screens, and participate in other activities. One is at Kansas City Kansas Community College, 7250 State Ave., and the other is at Dave and Buster’s at The Legends Outlets.
Jobe noted there also will be activities in Kansas City, Mo., and surrounding areas. The MLS host hotel is actually in Kansas City, Mo.
“We know this is going to benefit the entire metro area, not just KCK,” she said.
Within the next few weeks, Kansas City, Kan., residents will see some street banners going up in the Village West area, downtown Kansas City, Kan., and by the University of Kansas Medical Center that will say “Welcome to KCK,” she said. “We wanted to pick some of the first areas where people are coming into KCK,” she noted.
Banners and posters also will go up at restaurants and hotels around the area saying “Welcome to Kansas City,” and 10,000 buttons with that message are being produced, she said.
“We’re trying to blanket the city, wherever fans are, to see ‘Welcome to Kansas City,’” she said.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland will kick off Soccer Week downtown at Memorial Hall, 600 N. 7th St., near Kansas City, Kan., City Hall, and has invited Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James to attend.
A notable presence at the City Hall rally will be a 30-foot inflatable jersey on display, a replica of the MLS jersey, Jobe said. During the week afterward the jersey will move to various locations through Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., where visitors may see it, including the Schlitterbahn, Legends Outlets, Barney Allis Plaza and the Power and Light District.
In conjunction with the Soccer Week kickoff event, Mayors Holland and James will hold “The Return of the Border Wars, a competition for the greater good,” she said. That will be a food drive to benefit the Harvesters food bank, with a competition between Kansas and Missouri food donations. The losing mayor will wear the other state’s team jersey for a day, she added.
Jobe said she is encouraging people to take the day off work and come out to Village West on game day, Wednesday, July 31. At noon, there will be a T-Bones baseball game, and tickets to the baseball game will be given away through the CVB website and Legends promotions in coming weeks.
Starting at 3 p.m. on July 31, The Legends Outlets will sponsor special activities including a live band, and at 4 p.m., Nebraska Furniture Mart parking lot will be the site of the free public MLS soccer celebration, she said. The soccer game begins at 8 p.m.
A watch party from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at KCKCC’s field house, with a big screen, will include many family-oriented activities, including games, booths, food for sale, and the first 50 kids there will receive a free soccer ball, she said. Another watch party at Dave and Buster’s at The Legends Outlets is for an older crowd, sponsored by Budweiser.
“People can come out and for almost next to nothing, can spend the day at Village West and take in all the activities,” Jobe said. “The idea is you’ll get a little of the atmosphere and it’s just a fun community activity.”
Jobe said many volunteers are working with this effort, including from the Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Social Media Club, as well as help from Cabela’s, The Legends, and Sporting KC.