ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT), in cooperation with the Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) and Major League Soccer (MLS), announce the creation of the Hawaiian Islands Invitational, an international soccer event beginning Feb. 23 & 25, 2012, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The annual event will feature four games over a two-day period and will host squads from around the globe.
The Hawaiian Islands Invitational will be carried on ESPN3.com and on a number of ESPN International networks. The inaugural event will include an MLS squad and three additional international teams to be announced at a later date.
"ESPN is excited and pleased to be working with the Hawai’i Tourism Authority on bringing a new event to Honolulu,” said Clint Overby, ESPN Senior Director of Events. “Along with Major League Soccer, it will be a team effort in making this event a reality and we look forward to the collaboration.”
Hawaii Airlines has also stepped up as the official worldwide airline carrier of the Hawaiian Islands Invitational.
"We are appreciative to the Hawai’i Tourism Authority efforts in making this event a reality,” said David Matlin, Executive Director of the Hawaiian Islands Invitational. “The international flavor of the Hawaiian Islands Invitational will help strengthen Hawaii's position as a destination of choice among Pacific Rim countries. We are also very appreciative that Hawaiian Airlines has jumped on board to serve as our official airline carrier. "
“The popularity of soccer in Hawaii is tremendous,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said. “The Hawaiian Islands Invitational will be enjoyed by those who love this sport nationally and internationally. There is no other sport in the world that brings cultures together like soccer and, as a state, we will not only welcome the teams but also the fans that will visit Hawaii to be a part of this tournament.”
"MLS is proud to return to Hawaii, together with our broadcast partner ESPN and the HTA, whom we’ve worked with in the past,” said Will Wilson, MLS Executive Vice President. “We look forward to MLS’ successful participation in the Hawaiian Islands Invitational.”
“The Hawaii Tourism Authority is very pleased to be a part of the first ever Hawaiian Islands Invitational. The event will support our marketing efforts by attracting visitors from our major target and emerging markets,” said Mike McCartney, HTA president and CEO. “In addition, the television exposure and timing in close proximity to the Pro Bowl will reap great publicity benefits for Hawaii. But just as important, the Invitational will be a wonderful attraction for Hawaii residents. Soccer is an incredibly popular sport in our state, with youth soccer in Hawai’i registering more than 25,000 players and having more than 4,000 volunteers each year. We expect that the event will draw a great deal of local interest and attendance.”
LeadOff Sports Marketing has played an integral part in securing the international teams for the 2012 event, while HTA will be a major player in the execution of the Invitational.
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 Hawaii's Warriors 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.