SoccerFest to take place in Bethlehem
If you can't attend the World Cup in Brazil this summer, SteelStacks Bethlehem will be the closest experience a fan can get once the tournament kicks off on June 12.
During a press conference last week, Artsquest announced it will be hosting a free FIFA World Cup SoccerFest and Viewing Party at SteelStacks from June 12-16 and 19-22.
The event will feature a 17-foot high by 27-foot wide outdoor LED screen on SteelStacks' Air products Town Square, broadcasting 26-live matches over the course of the first two weekends of tournament, highlighted by the USA's opening round matches against Ghana and Portugal.
Planning for the event has been in the works over the past two years and started with the ideas from the likes of Curt Mosel, ArtsQuest Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations.
Mosel attended the 2006 World Cup in Germany and wanted to bring the similar feel of FIFA Fan Fests, which bring in thousands of spectators to watch contests in host cities on giant LED screens, to Bethlehem.
"I remember when we were in Stuttgart in 2006 and they had a huge screen in the middle of the river with 10,000 people watching the game from all over," Mosel said. "It was just an incredible experience and we wondered how we could replicate that here? We have the backdrop with the Bethlehem Steel buildings, but it's really about tying together the passion for international soccer with the youth in the area."
Greg Ramos, executive director of Lehigh Valley United, knows how that experience can influence the youth, since attending the 1994 World Cup in the United States still holds a lasting imprint on his life.
"It's really the next best thing to being in Brazil," Ramos said of the SoccerFest in Bethlehem. "I think you can count on one hand the amount of requests that FIFA has granted throughout the United States for events like this. This footprint here at SteelStacks is so unique and having FIFA's consent and support sends a great message to everyone in the Lehigh Valley."
Mosel didn't know how Mosel didn't know how many other FIFA-approved events would be going on throughout the country, but he did know that Indianapolis was denied a request to hold a similar event. The event will feature ethnic foods, music, various clinics, coaching courses, while the second weekend will coincide with ¡Sabor!, a popular free Latin festival at SteelStacks that attracted 10,000 visitors last year.
Mosel hopes that the SoccerFest will bring in more than 30,000 people over the course of two weekends.
"We hope that we can reach north of 30,000 people, if not even more," Mosel said. "For kids, it's going to be an experience like no other. There's going to be people with nationalities from all over the world, wearing their flags, have their faces painted and showing passion for the game. We want to expose this great experience to people in the area."