Colorado Rapids Mourn Death of MLS Pioneer Lamar Hunt
Denver Colorado (Thursday December 14 2006) - Colorado Rapids Managing Director Jeff Plush today issued the following statement regarding the death of American sports pioneer and founding MLS investor Lamar Hunt:
"Lamar Hunt was one of the most important figures in the history of American sports. His impact on both football and soccer is immeasurable. As great as he was as a sports businessman he was a better person. It was an absolute privilege to have had the opportunity to spend time with Lamar. He will be sorely missed.
"On behalf of the Colorado Rapids and the entire Kroenke Sports organization we offer our condolences to the Hunt family and the Hunt Sports Group organization."
One of the most influential sportsmen in the world the impact of Hunt on soccer in the United States is immeasurable. Hunt championed the sport for more than 30 years beginning with his first experience with soccer in 1962 when he met his future wife Norma at a Shamrock Rovers game in Dublin Ireland.
In 1966 he viewed the FIFA World Cup in England and then attended nine of the past 11 World Cups (Argentina ’78 and Germany 2006 being the exceptions). Hunt was one of the few people in the world who attended a game in every World Cup stadium during World Cup USA 1994 World Cup France 1998 and World Cup Korea/Japan in 2002.
Hunt became an investor in the North American Soccer League’s Dallas Tornado in 1967 owning the team for 14 years. Hunt served as Dallas Host Committee Chairman for World Cup 1994 and then became a founding investor in Major League Soccer prior to the League’s first season in 1996. Hunt was the original investor-operator of the Columbus Crew and the Kansas City Wizards.
In 1999 he established a milestone by the constructing the first stadium built specifically for an MLS team Columbus Crew Stadium. In 2003 Hunt purchased a third team the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas). Hunt opened another soccer-specific stadium in 2005 with the debut of Pizza Hut Park in Frisco Texas. Hunt who recently sold the Wizards to OnGoal LLC attended MLS Cup 2006 on November 12 at Pizza Hut Park.
Hunt who saw the U.S. Open Cup renamed in his honor was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1982 as a builder. Information on memorial services will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorials be made to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Heart of a Champion Foundation.