COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Columbus Crew and FC Dallas will play in the inaugural "Lamar Hunt Pioneer Cup: A Tribute," on Sunday, March 11, 2007 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas (6 p.m. ET). Hunt, the Crew's late Founder, was investor-operator of both Major League Soccer clubs. The Pioneer Cup, which will be played in Columbus next year, will serve as a fund-raiser for each team's charitable foundation, with all net proceeds from the game donated to a local cause.
An Alumni Tribute Game between former players and coaches of Hunt-owned teams, including the Crew, FC Dallas, Kansas City Wizards and Dallas Tornado (NASL), will kick off the activities at 3 p.m. on March 11. Hunt, who oversaw the creation of both Columbus Crew Stadium - the first major-league stadium built specifically for soccer in this country - and Pizza Hut Park, passed away at the age of 74 on Dec. 13, 2006 after a battle with cancer.
"His altruistic nature and contributions to others will be among Lamar Hunt's most enduring legacies, so I think the Pioneer Cup, benefiting charitable causes, will serve as a wonderful reflection of his selflessness," said Crew General Manager Mark McCullers. "I look forward to working with FC Dallas in the establishment of a worthy and lasting tribute to someone who meant so much to all of us."
For the inaugural Pioneer Cup, the FC Dallas Foundation has partnered with Dallas SCORES, a youth development program that inspires a lasting dedication to learning, healthy lifestyles and community engagement among inner-city public school students. Dallas SCORES, an affiliate of America SCORES, uses a combination of soccer, creative writing and service-learning for students in a safe, constructive learning environment after school five days a week. Students who agree to make an equal commitment to creative writing workshops will participate in a soccer league, which will be re-named the Pioneer Soccer League in honor of Lamar Hunt.
Contributions may be made through a variety of means, including by naming your price for tickets to the Pioneer Cup, as well as in exchange for sponsorship and marketing opportunities. Tickets for the game are available for a minimum contribution of $5 for endline seats or $10 for sideline seats, but fans may contribute any higher amount per ticket. There will be no charge for event parking.
As a point of reference, a $100 contribution would roughly cover the expenses of one child per year participating in the Pioneer Soccer League. Individuals or organizations that cannot attend, but would like to contribute to the cause may do so through the online form found at www.fcdallas.net or by calling the FC Dallas office at 888-FCD-GOAL (888-323-4625).
The winning team will keep the Pioneer Cup, while the losing side will donate $1,000 to the other team's foundation. Fans will have an opportunity to bid on the game-worn jerseys of the players with all proceeds going to the Dallas SCORES Pioneer League.
Recognized as one of the greatest sports visionaries in American history, Lamar Hunt helped pioneer professional soccer in the United States. In 1967, he became an original investor in the Dallas Tornado Soccer Club, in what was initially known as the United Soccer Association, then as the North American Soccer League starting in 1968. A model franchise during its 14 years, the organization and its legacy of soccer disciples was an early catalyst in the development of the game, placing North Texas at the cutting edge of the American youth soccer market.
The Hunt family once again stepped to the forefront of U.S. soccer in 1996 by becoming a charter investor in Major League Soccer and founding investor-operators of the Crew and Kansas City Wizards. Hunt made his greatest contribution to soccer in this country in 1998-99, when he made pro soccer history by funding the construction of Crew Stadium. In 1999, he was awarded the National Soccer Hall of Fame Medal of Honor and saw the U.S. Open Cup Tournament renamed in his honor.
The Hunt family took over the operations of Dallas in 2003, and helped make Texas soccer history by breaking ground on the team's Pizza Hut Park, a 20,500-seat, state-of-the-art soccer-specific stadium in Frisco which became the first soccer stadium in the country built through a coordination of both private and public funds.
Founded by Lamar Hunt, the Columbus Crew is Ohio's Major League Soccer club, anchoring a diverse sports and entertainment enterprise. One of the league's Charter Members, it will open its 12th season overall and ninth in first-of-its-kind Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday, April 7, when it plays host to the Eastern Conference-rival New York Red Bulls.