Soccer season is just around the corner and this week Major League Soccer released details of the 2001 MLS Hispanic Heritage Nights, the league's first fully integrated national marketing initiative targeted toward the growing Hispanic community. Budweiser, Pepsi and Kellogg's also announced their involvement as presenting sponsors of the program that celebrates the culture of the varied Hispanic communities in the United States.
"As the recent census figures show, the face of America is changing, and this is the first national MLS program aimed at celebrating the cultural background of this important segment of our fan base," said MLS Vice President of Corporate Partnerships Tom Haid-inger. "Additionally, this program demonstrates the commitment MLS has to supporting the communities in which it plays."
Hispanic Heritage Nights (HHN), a series of 12 games held in conjunction with a regularly scheduled league game, will provide an entertaining, soccer-filled, family-oriented evening dedicated to honoring various Hispanic traditions and customs including: pre-game Hispanic festival with interactive games, product sampling and ethnic food; pre-game entertainment and musical guests; on-field recognition of local "Hispanic Heroes" and community leaders; Hispanic Scholarship Fund Donation; MLS Golazo! Video premium item and event logo in both English and Spanish.
In conjunction with HHN, the league has produced "MLS En Español", a bilingual newspaper supplement providing features on MLS and Hispanic players. One million copies of the 12-page, full-color publication are currently being distributed into primarily major Spanish-language newspapers in each of the league's' 12 markets this week. During the league's five-year history, 91 players from 15 Latin American countries have played in MLS.
MLS currently features Hispanic stars such as Carlos Valderrama, who was recently voted Colombia's Best Player of the Century, Mexico's Luis Hernandez, Ecuador's Ariel Graziani, Salvadoran treasure Raul Diaz Arce and 18-year-old Bolivian sensation Joselito Vaca. "It is good for the league to acknowledge and salute the many Hispanic fans that support MLS and bring their passion and enthusiasm to our stadiums," said D.C. United forward and Bolivian native Jaime Moreno. "I am glad to know that this event will also benefit young Latinos striving to earn an education."
A portion of ticket sales from each event will go toward the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), an educational fund that is dedicated to strengthening America by advancing the college education of Hispanic Americans. Since its founding, the HSF has awarded more than 40,000 scholarships totaling nearly $48 million dollars and is the largest Hispanic scholarship funding organization in the country. The scholarship recipients represent all Hispanic groups in every region of the country studying a wide range of disciplines in hundreds of higher educational institutions.
"We are grateful to Major League Soccer for their support," said Sara Martinez Tucker, HSF president and chief executive officer. "The Hispanic Heritage Nights will provide a tremendous benefit to the community by helping deserving Latino students achieve their dreams of achieving a college degree."