Wednesday, January 25, 2012

PPL Park to host 2012 MLS All-Star Game

For the first time in a decade, Philadelphia will host an All-Star Game.

Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday that Philadelphia will be the stage for the 2012 MLS All-Star Game on July 25 at 8 pm ET, bringing the summer’s showcase event to PPL Park, where the Sons of Ben will welcome a yet unnamed opponent to take on the best MLS has to offer. In the most recent edition held in 2011, Manchester United took on the MLS All-Stars at Red Bull Arena.

The 2012 event will be broadcast on ESPN2, Galavision or TeleFutura and TSN and RDS, while ESPN International will provide live coverage of the event in more than 100 countries around the world and ESPN3 and WatchESPN carry the game online in the United States.

Joining MLS Commissioner Don Garber for the announcement at City Hall were Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz and City of Chester Mayor John Linder. The last All-Star game held in Philadelphia was the NBA’s in 2002.

“Philadelphia has become a destination for hosting major soccer events in recent years, and we are pleased to bring the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game to a region with incredibly passionate soccer supporters,” Garber said. “The Sons of Ben and the rest of the Union fans will provide an enthusiastic home-field advantage at PPL Park, and we look forward to celebrating our sport with this vibrant soccer community.”

For the ninth time in league history, the game with feature an international opponent. While the opponent has still not been determined for 2012, previous editions have featured Manchester United (2010 and 2011), Everton FC (2009), Chelsea FC (2006) and CD Guadalajara (2003). The MLS All-Stars are 5-2-1 in those matches. Manchester United won last year's game 4-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 26,760 at Red Bull Arena.

Since joining MLS for the 2010 season, the Union have enjoyed success both on and off the field, making the playoffs in their second season and selling out the majority of their games at PPL Park. The club has also hosted six international matches at Lincoln Financial Field, averaging attendance figures of more than 40,000 in those games. Last season, the Union averaged 18,259 fans at PPL Park, just shy of the stadium's official capacity of 18,500.

All of which makes them an ideal candidate to host the MLS All-Stars, according to Sakiewicz.

"Since Philadelphia Union came to the region two years ago, the soccer fans in this area have shown that they are among the most passionate and authentic in the country,” he said in a statement. “It's a tremendous honor for us to host the MLS All Star game and reward the fans with yet another memorable experience at PPL Park.”

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