Rapids to Host 2007 MLS All-Star Game

DENVER (MLS Official Release) - Celtic FC one of the world’s most widely-supported clubs will face the MLS All-Stars in the 2007 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park the new home of the Colorado Rapids in Commerce City Colo. on Thursday July 19 (live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. MT).

MLS announced the news during a press conference at The Pinnacle Club in the Grand Hyatt featuring MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis and Colorado Rapids Managing Director Jeff Plush.

"We are thrilled to welcome Celtic one of the world’s most popular teams for a quality match against the best of MLS at our newest soccer cathedral Dick’s Sporting Goods Park said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "We look forward to an exciting evening in this tremendous new soccer-specific venue."

Founded in 1888 Celtic boasts one of the most dedicated and widespread fan bases in sports and is a perennial power in Scotland. Currently atop the Scottish Premier League Standings and 17 points ahead of rival club Glasgow Rangers Celtic appears destined to capture its 41st domestic championship. Last November the club qualified for the knockout round of the prestigious UEFA Champions League by virtue of a stunning 1-0 upset of English powerhouse Manchester United. Celtic opens its two-game quarterfinal against Italy’s AC Milan at home on Feb. 20.

The club’s distinctive green-and-white "Hoops" jersey and shamrock crest are recognized throughout the world and Celtic is among the best attended soccer clubs throughout the world averaging more than 57000 fans per home match during the 2006-2007 season.

"We are absolutely delighted to be traveling to America again this pre-season to take part in this match versus the MLS All-Stars said Peter Lawwell Chief Executive Celtic Football Club. "Celtic has a world-wide audience with thousands of fans in the United States and I am sure this passionate support will be looking forward to welcoming the team back. Everyone at Celtic is very much looking forward to the trip."

The site for the first Major League Soccer All Star event hosted in Colorado will be Dick’s Sporting Goods Park home of the Colorado Rapids. The newest jewel of Denver’s sports landscape Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is considered the biggest and most state-of-the-art professional stadium and field complex in the world and features an 18000-seat stadium surrounded by a 24-field fully-lit professional soccer complex.

"We are thrilled to play host to both Celtic Football Club and the best players from Major League Soccer in the league’s marquee midseason event said Colorado Rapids Managing Director Jeff Plush. "This is just an example of some of the world-class events that the diverse soccer fan base in Colorado can expect here at our new home of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park."

The Dick’s Sporting Goods Park complex is located nine miles northeast of downtown Denver and only five miles from Denver International Airport near the intersection of Interstate 70 and Quebec Street. Stadium amenities include 22 lodge-style luxury suites a unique open concourse design that allows for 360-degree sightlines to the field a world-class grass field with an underground heating and draining system as well as a fully-integrated video and LED electronic sign that is among the largest of its kind.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park anchors a one-of-a-kind 917-acre Prairie Gateway site that is a public-private partnership between Kroenke Sports Enterprises and Commerce City. The site hosts the new Commerce City municipal hall retail development offices for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a new visitors’ center for the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge.

The current Celtic squad boasts high-profile players such as Captain Neil Lennon Polish goalkeeper Artur Boruc Scottish defenders Steven Pressley and Stephen McManus Japanese midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura Danish midfielder Thomas Gravesen and Dutch midfielder Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.

This will be the fourth time that the League’s best players battle one of the world’s top clubs in the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game which was adopted to ensure the most competitive All-Star spectacle in U.S. professional sports. The MLS All-Stars have won all three previous meetings outscoring international opponents 8-2. Last year the MLS All-Stars defeated two-time defending Premier League Champions Chelsea FC 1-0 on a goal by Houston Dynamo midfielder Dwayne De Rosario.

In 2005 the MLS All-Stars defeated English Premier League club Fulham FC 4-1 at a sold out Columbus Crew Stadium and in 2003 the MLS All-Stars downed storied Mexican club CD Guadalajara 3-1 at The Home Depot Center with Carlos Ruiz capturing MVP honors.

Pepsi and Sierra Mist continue to support soccer in the United States by being the title sponsor of the MLS All-Star Game for the sixth consecutive year. Pepsi has been a corporate partner with MLS since the league’s inaugural season in 1996.

"The Sierra Mist MLS All-Star game has once again attracted one of the best teams in the world making it a must-see event for the fans said Ralph Santana VP of sports marketing media and interactive Pepsi-Cola North America. "The fact that the game will be played in a brand new soccer stadium will add another level of excitement. It’s another great chapter in MLS history."

The 11 MLS All-Star games have offered fans a variety of formats. On six occasions All-Stars squads from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference have squared off. In 1998 the best players in the League faced each other in a USA vs. World format while in 2002 the MLS All-Stars defeated the U.S. National Team 3-2 at RFK Stadium in a celebration of the team’s historic World Cup Quarterfinal finish.

Colorado Rapids full-season seat holders will have the MLS All Star Game included in their 2007 package at no additional cost. All partial-season seat holders will receive a discounted priority purchase option on their seats prior to them going on sale to the general public. The Rapids are also working with the North American Federation of Celtic Supporters Clubs to provide special offers to their members through their local chapters in the near future.

The on-sale date for the general public along with individual ticket prices will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information fans can call 303-825-GOAL or CLICK HERE.