Create an event to localize the excitement of the 2014 World Cup, draw visitors to the Lehigh Valley and get national exposure for the region.
A key insight to creating the event was Bethlehem’s role in establishing professional soccer in America. Bethlehem Steel’s soccer team in early decades of the twentieth century dominated the country. The event would be held on the grounds of the former Bethlehem Steel plant that’s currently an arts, culture and entertainment complex. The plant’s massive blast furnaces would serve as a dramatic backdrop for the viewing party and help attract national coverage from ESPN.
Pulling off the Soccerfest and World Cup Viewing Party took months of painstaking coordination between ArtsQuest, the venue, Discover Lehigh Valley, the local tourism agency, a dozen corporate sponsors and the governing bodies for professional soccer. The event celebrated international culture with live music and food from the nations whose games were being televised. Activities that recognized Bethlehem’s proud soccer heritage and children’s soccer clinics featuring members of the Philadelphia Union fostered a family friendly atmosphere.
Soccerfest and World Cup Viewing Party attracted more than 50,000 people to watch the games on giant screens. Live look-ins via ESPN plus a story in USA Today exposed more than 17 million people to the Lehigh Valley and the beautiful ArtsQuest complex.