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MLS All-Star Game: All-Star Party — Wednesday's game is only part of this week's festivities

Published: Sunday, July 26 2009 12:14 a.m. MDT

In every major professional sport around the United States, all-star games are much more than just a showcase of talent. The build-up to the game is often just as exciting. Leagues create multi-day parties for fans to immerse themselves in a variety of experiences and entertainment options.

Back in 1993, when the Utah Jazz hosted the NBA All-Star Game at the Delta Center, the nearby Salt Palace hosted the NBA Jam Session. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, fans participated in all things NBA, including a slam dunk contest, 3-point shootout, 3-on-3 basketball tournament and celebrity appearances.

It was a nonstop party from sun up 'til sundown whether fans had tickets to the big game or not.

Sixteen years later, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, the all-star experience has returned to the Wasatch Front. The Major League Soccer All-Star Game will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium this Wednesday, a game that features MLS's best against Everton FC of the English Premier League.

Well before the likes of Freddie Ljundberg, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Tim Howard and Landon Donovan take the field, though, fans will be able to immerse themselves in all things MLS for a few days.

The festivities include a free concert, several meet and greets, a rockin' night club party and some community service.

Even though the MLS All-Star Game isn't quite as interactive as the NBA All-Star Game nearly two decades ago, there's enough to keep casual and die-hard fans entertained.

MLS commissioner Don Garber arrives on Monday for the festivities, and he said he's anxious to see how Utah embraces the event.

"It was a big part of our commitment to Salt Lake City and to the region that we would bring an all-star game to Dave's new stadium. Dave Checketts has been a visionary and innovative MLS owner, and he and his company have been a big driving force about building this sport in the region, and he made an incredible personal and financial commitment to building Rio Tinto Stadium, which I think will change the landscape of the sport of soccer in the mountain region," said Garber. "Without Dave and his family, it wouldn't be where it is today, so the fact that we could bring a game like this is a great gift back for him, and to the fans it will be part of many more games to come."

With the MLS All-Stars and Everton FC based at The Canyons resort in Park City, the world-renowned city in the mountains is the hub for many of the events. Both teams will train for the first time on Monday at the Park City Sports Complex, with the MLS going from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. followed by Everton from 5 to 6:30.

Later that evening, select MLS players will be available for a pair of meet and greets at local Volkswagen locations from 5 to 8 p.m. Both the Strong VW location downtown and South Towne VW will host these events.

In addition, from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m., fans who've purchased KFC Colonel's Corner tickets will be treated to an exclusive meet and greet at Rio Tinto Stadium with Chicago midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales.

On Tuesday, select MLS stars will help with the construction of an entire playground at the Northwest Recreation Center in Salt Lake City from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Later that night, the real party starts. The MLS All-Star Jam featuring a free concert from Soulive will take place at The Canyons from 7 to 10 p.m., with players from both MLS and Everton FC expected to attend. Representatives from the Guinness World Records will also be on hand at The Canyons to see if any participants can break any soccer skill records such as longest time spinning a ball on your head, currently at 19.96 seconds.

Afterward, the MLS W.O.R.K.S. All-Star Party will be held at Harry O's nightclub on Main Street in Park City, with the $10 cover benefitting the Nothing But Nets Foundation.

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