ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, in cooperation with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) and Major League Soccer (MLS), has secured the four teams participating in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational (HII) scheduled for Thursday and Saturday, Feb. 23 & 25, 2012, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.
Yokohama FC (Japan), Incheon United FC (Korea), Melbourne Heart FC (Australia) and the Colorado Rapids (MLS) will compete in the international soccer event.
“We are pleased to announce the four teams participating in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational,” Clint Overby, ESPN Senior Director of Events. “The event will be carried on ESPN3.com and a number of ESPN International networks. This is a great beginning to help get this event off the ground, and our efforts to cultivate it into an annual soccer tournament where people from around the world can share and enjoy.”
Yokohama FC features the legendary striker Kazuyoshi “Kazu” Miura. Chairman Yasuhiko Okudera was the first Japanese soccer player to play in the German Bundesliga. Masaaki Takada, a former defender on the Yokohama FC team, is now serving as Technical Advisor for the Hawai‘i 808 Soccer Club.
Incheon United FC is led by Byung Soo Yoo, a promising young striker who was recently named as one of the top “Ten Asian Players to Watch” on SI.com.
Melbourne Heart FC is a fairly new team that was founded in 2008. Former MLS Brazilian star, Fred, joined the Heart earlier this month as a midfielder. Rock Star Jon Bon Jovi is the Heart’s number one international ticket holder.
The Colorado Rapids won the 2010 MLS Cup and feature defender Kosuke Kimura, the first Japanese player in MLS history. Former Rapids defender Marcello Balboa, who was also a member of the U.S. National Team, serves as a Hawai‘i Youth Soccer Association Olympic Development Coach.
“This is an exciting event for our state and we are pleased to welcome the four teams from Colorado, Japan, Korea and Australia to participate in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational in February,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “Sporting events, such as these, help to diversify Hawai‘i’s tourism product and provide visitors and residents alike the opportunity to attend or participate. Since soccer is the most popular sport in the world, we anticipate international media coverage of the event to generate invaluable exposure of our islands to a worldwide audience.”
“LeadOff Sports Marketing has done a tremendous job in securing the teams for the Hawaiian Islands Invitational,” HII Executive Director David Matlin said. “We are looking forward to working with HTA and ESPN to provide a global platform for professional soccer and provide the people of Hawai‘i a first-hand look at the competition. Since Hawai‘i is such an ethnically diverse State, we hope that the soccer community can directly relate to the international flavor of this event.”
The Hilton Hawaiian Village will serve as a presenting sponsor and the exclusive hotel partner of the Hawaiian Islands Invitational.
“We are delighted to be working with ESPN to launch the Inaugural Hawaiian Islands Invitational Soccer Tournament,” Hilton Hawaiian Village Regional Vice President for Sales and Marketing Jon Conching said. “The Hilton Hawaiian Village has long been a place where visitors and kama’aina come together in the spirit of aloha. We look forward to extending our aloha spirit to the participating soccer teams and fans from around the Pacific Rim.”
Hawaiian Airlines, which serves Hawai‘i nonstop from 10 cities in the Western US as well as Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Australia, American Samoa and Tahiti, will serve as the official airline of the Hawaiian Islands Invitational.
“This event will bring valuable television exposure for Hawai‘i, as well as offering an exciting new opportunity to the soccer fans and families in our community. Hawaiian is proud to be a part of bringing professional soccer and all it has to offer to our islands,” Avi Mannis, Vice President – Marketing for Hawaiian Airlines said.
Aloha Stadium, the largest outdoor arena in the state of Hawai‘i, will feature a new synthetic playing surface and is home to the University of Hawai‘i’s Warrior football team and hosts a multitude of other events, including the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl and the NFL Pro Bowl.
The family-friendly tournament and year-round great weather resort destination of Honolulu, Hawai’i, will host the teams for a week of training camps, local soccer clinics and other cultural events surrounding the Invitational. Additional information can be found on the Hawaiian Islands Invitational Web site at www.hawaiianislandsinvitational.com or at www.espnplus.com.
Tickets on Sale Monday, Aug. 1
Fans can purchase individual game tickets online beginning August 1, 2011, at eTicketHawaii.com and print them on their home computer. They can also visit the Stan Sheriff Center Box Office (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.) or call 944-2697 during the same hours.
ESPN Regional Television/Event Ownership
The nation’s largest syndicator of collegiate sports programming, ESPN Regional Television (ERT) annually produces more than 1,200 sporting events. Content includes action from NCAA football, basketball and Olympic sports, NHRA and professional and amateur golf, accounting for more than 3,400 live and/or original hours of programming. ERT’s owned and operated events reach over a million fans a year and provides more than 200 additional hours of programming.
In addition to event ownership, ERT is the production headquarters for ESPNU; syndication rights-holder and producer of national, regional and local shows for college conferences (SEC, BIG EAST, Big 12, Mid-American, WAC) and manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program.
ESPN Regional Television markets and/or owns several sporting events:
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg; Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.); MAACO Bowl Las Vegas; Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Houston); MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (Orlando, Fla.) and The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards
76 Classic (Anaheim, Calif.); Champions Classic (Madison Square Garden; debuts 2011); Charleston Classic (S.C.); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Old Spice Classic (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); All-College Basketball Classic (Oklahoma City) and BracketBusters
ESPNU Warrior Classic
For more information, visit ESPNPlus.com.
Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. MLS features many stars from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. Major League Soccer’s 16th season, which will feature 18 clubs each playing 34 regular season matches, will kick off on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Those clubs include Chicago Fire; Chivas USA; 2010 MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids; Columbus Crew; D.C. United; FC Dallas; Houston Dynamo; LA Galaxy; New York Red Bulls; New England Revolution; Philadelphia Union; Real Salt Lake; San Jose Earthquakes; Seattle Sounders FC; Sporting Kansas City; Toronto FC; and, in their inaugural seasons, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. An expansion team in Montreal will debut in 2012. For more information about MLS, log on to the League’s official website at www.MLSsoccer.com.
LeadOff Sports Marketing
LeadOff Sports Marketing is a professional sports marketing agency headquartered in New York City. With an extensive network and vast international experience, LeadOff Sports Marketing delivers custom designed services and marketing programs configured to promote their clients business objectives. A multi-faceted agency, Leadoff Sports Marketing engages teams, leagues and corporations with strategic business development initiatives, while also serving as a conduit between North America and Asia in creating sponsorship, marketing, branding and athlete representation opportunities between the two continents. For more information about LeadOff Sports Marketing, log on to www.leadoffsportsmarketing.com