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|KC Eats and Greets: Asim Pasha @ Livestrong Sporting Park|
There is a civic pride at Livestrong Sporting Park, with new U.S. citizens being sworn in and media worlds converging.
Put me on record: Livestrong Sporting Park is the best soccer stadium in North America! I would love to see KC on a global stage, not just on a local regional or national stage. It's happening... slowly... Real Madrid, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants are following the tech convergence models in KCK.
The blue skies over Kansas would make Dorothy proud to live here--it's a Wizard of a sky. The solar rays of lights shine down on The Legends complex, the retail destination. You can see fathers carrying their boys atop shoulders. And there are Soccer Moms, literally and figuratively, everywhere. Parking comes at a premium.
I’ve played some soccer, and my heart still belongs to baseball, but globally one is hard-pressed to find a more “beautiful game,” as it is so-called el partido de futbol… soccer.
In Kansas City, something magical happened in a place where sport is almost as important as breathing. As the Chiefs and Royals stumbled, Sporting KC became one of the hottest teams in professional soccer, if not professional sports.
The media will-call is under a blue tent. People stare, they file in, they look around. There's a mini-cooper with Red Bull signage all over it. Don't need any Red Bull right now because the energy is live enough.
It's Sporting KC versus the New York Red Bulls. Sporting KC, the soccer franchise with the newest stadium, the newest fan experience, the newest fans and technology in America's newest and fast-growing major professional sports league, can go to the playoffs with a victory at this match.
I'm here to see Asim Pasha, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the second-largest IT staff in professional sports behind the Dallas Cowboys. We sit in the plushy-plush victor suite as we chat about innovation, corporate branding and partnerships.
(From left, Sasha Victorine, Biz Dev Director for Sporting Innovations, Asim Pasha's son and Asim Pasha, CIO of Sporting Kansas City)
I sit with Asim as the crowd from the cauldron section––a holdover from the KC Wizard days, they changed the name to Sporting KC in 2010––roars at every call, boos at every trip and comes alive with every run on the goal. In our suite, there are flat screen televisions and wonderful views of the flawless green field, or "pitch" as they call it everywhere but here in America.
The conversation is always good here, although I once got in trouble for saying it looks like a mix of Frank Ghery meets suburban office park. That was my vantage, but it didn't make the architects all that happy. Chalk it up to a faux paux of an out-of-towner.
KC's a food town so the spread is always incredible in the plush press box. There's green salad, chicken and hot dogs. I'm so in need of a protein blast that the delicious-looking pollo makes me want to leave the one I'm with (I only eat fish, eggs and veggies) and start a new relationship.
But I stand firm, even though Asim and his son sit wolfing down the chicken and some other food from a franchise I can only visit for waffle fries: Chick-Fil-a.
As we learn, the miles of fiber-optic cables and bandwidth in the under carriage of the brand spanking new arena de los reyes makes all the Wifi and social media and tablet applications for gaming and stat following in real time––it makes it all possible.
We talk tech. His walkie talkie cackles with the energy of an neutron bomb, a good one. He’s dressed smartly, as is his front office cohort.
Did I mention it’s the most wired stadium in North America?
Sporting Innovation is the new topic. It’s a new division of the multi-faceted enterprise that is Sporting KC. Sporting Innovation merges the surreal with the real. It enables fans to order food from their seats. The fan experience has led this team from a cella-dweller to the brink of the playoffs and a shot at the MLS Cup.
This is why Asim must leave soon. He’s busy, he’s proud, he’s a work horse, he’s going places. He’s outta here with the other guy in the crispy suit with the European cut.
I’m now seeing zesty cheeses and fresh strawberries and granola bars out of the corner of my eyes. Well-to-do kiddos with Sporting paraphernalia bound around with careless, wonderful energy. I wonder if they know they are either rich, privileged or both.
Time to grab a napkin, strawberries and cheeses and go back to the press box but not after screaming the word “Victory” like Johnny Drama from HBO’s "Entourage."
Sporting KC: 2
New York Red Bulls: 0.
Sporting is headed to the playoffs and the social media and tech integration bonanza continues to the delight of beat reporters up here who get awesome food and stats that inform their stories.
• Sporting Kansas City went 9-2-6 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in its inaugural season.
• Sporting Kansas City is 9-4-3 in home regular season finales in the club’s history and have not loss a regular season home finale since 2002.
• Sporting Kansas City secured a berth in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs with the win, marking their first appearance in the postseason since 2008.
Playoffs here we come. Technology, here we are!