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VOL. 125 | NO. 167 | Friday, August 27, 2010

Soccer, Music Fest Adds to Mike Rose Complex Offerings

JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Daily News

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Stranger combinations have come off well – chocolate and peanut butter, poodles and golden retrievers, for example – but organizers of this week’s Soccer Rocks Festival and Copa Memphis soccer tournament hope to add soccer and rock music to the list of successful hybrids.

The two side-by-side events take place Friday through Sunday at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex at Forest Hill-Irene Road and Tenn. 385.

“The Mike Rose Soccer Complex is a world-class facility and we’re trying to make sure we get international world-class teams in here because it’s used a lot, but mainly by local people,” said Evan Hacker, tournament director and head of Center Circle, which is managing the tournament.

But if Hacker has his way, the complex in the future will host more passport-toting players. In fact, those involved are hoping that increasing fan support in general will mean more business in the Memphis area.

The idea for Copa Memphis and the Soccer Rocks Festival was hatched by Jason Grant Shela, head of the Soccer Rocks Festival, according to Hacker. Copa is Spanish for “cup.”

“Jason is a music guy,” said Hacker. “We met him when he came out to visit the complex. He had an idea about doing a music festival and I had an idea of doing an international soccer tournament, so we said, ‘Hey, let’s combine the two.’”

Shela, originally from London, is coaching director of the British Soccer Academy in New York City. He and his wife, Mary Lapides, spend summers in Memphis with Mary’s family.

“My brother-in-law, Mark Lapides, who was a very proud Memphian – his two passions were sports and music,” said Shela. “Unfortunately he died of pancreatic cancer last year so we wanted to honor him with an event that was the unity between sports and music.”

Portions of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA).

The Soccer Rocks Festival takes place immediately following play on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and features indie bands both local and out-of-state including 253 Boys from New York and London, the Gripweeds from New Jersey, and the Young Guns and Brittany Russell from Memphis.

The idea, Shela said, was to get soccer players, who are mostly youths and young adults, to hang around and mingle after their matches are finished.

Pre-tournament exhibition games began Tuesday night with a match between the University of Memphis men’s soccer team and Botafogo F.R., a professional men’s team from Brazil.

“Botafogo is currently third place in the Brazilian championship,” said Hacker. “It’s a huge professional club.”

Still the University of Memphis team won 1-0 Tuesday night.

“Over the last 10 years we’ve had several international teams come here,” said Kim Talley, general manager of the complex. “This will be our first Brazilian team coming in, but every year we have about 60 Irish men that play in the John Talley Tournament in March. We’ve had Canadians, English teams, it’s not unusual for us to have international play.”

And “international” means dollar signs in soccer terms.

This year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa received more media attention in the United States than in previous years and enthusiasts like Hacker think that’s because the sport is beginning to close the popularity gap with other major sports.

“I don’t think there’s a bigger youth sport in America,” said Hacker. “Some of the kids who got inspired in the 70s with the North American Soccer League coming over, those people are now fathers and coaches. (MLS) isn’t the biggest in America compared to other major sports, but there’s a lot of soccer interest.”

Variety.com reported that media outlets in the United States paid the most for advertising rights of any single country for this year’s World Cup, some $425 million. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC aired the games.

The Mike Rose complex contains 16 lighted fields of Bermuda grass and a stadium with a capacity for 3,000 spectators. Talley’s late husband, John, built it.

“All three of my children played soccer so we traveled all over the United States for them to play in tournaments,” said Talley. “So my husband decided that he wanted to build one here in Memphis and have everyone come to us.”

The complex hosts league games during the week and about 18 weekend tournaments each year. It is owned by Shelby County and privately managed by Talley’s company, Soccer Management.

“(Copa Memphis) is a brand new tournament for us so of course it’s in the building stage but we expect it to be a great event,” said Talley.

More than 600 boys and girls from six states are expected to play this weekend. Hacker estimates it will cost between $20,000 and $40,000 to run the entire event, which will be paid for by team registration fees and ticket prices. He said his group will be ready to pursue corporate sponsorship next year after they have this year’s event under their belts.

General admission for Copa Memphis and the Soccer Rocks Festival is $20 for adults, $10 for children under 16 and college students with valid IDs, and free for ages 8 and under.

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