Kansas City Connection: Alive and kicking for MLS all-star week

Only a year after hosting the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Kansas City has all-star fever again this week as it gears up for the Major League Soccer All-Star Game on Wednesday night at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. The MLS all-stars will face the Italian Club A.S. Roma at 8 p.m. preceded by a fan festival from 4 p.m. until game time in the Nebraska Furniture Mart parking lot.

Last week The New York Times ran a feature about how — thanks to an excellent new stadium, savvy marketing and a successful team — Kansas City is at the epicenter of soccer’s surge in popularity in the United States.

Though it doesn’t mention it in the article, Lawrencians have played an important role in the success story as well. With the Legends practically in Douglas County’s back yard, a trip to Sporting Park is an easy drive and an increasingly popular family outing for Lawrence residents.

To see the complete list of the all-star game activities that will be taking place in downtown Kansas City, Mo., including block parties, free concerts by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and the Silversun Pickups, visit mlssoccer.com/all-star/2013/powerandlight.

For ticket information for Sporting Kansas City regular season games, visit sportingkc.com.

Power and Light eats

Whether you’re out at the Legends or in the Power and Light district, one local establishment stands out amid the corporate chains. MeMa’s bakery serves up tasty, fresh-baked pastries, croissants and homemade sandwiches at the Legends (1829 Village West Parkway) and downtown (1211 Main St.). The Legends location has longer hours and is open every day, while the Main Street location closes at 4 p.m. and is not open Sunday. MeMa’s is best known for its povitica bread, and its strudels are pretty delicious, too.

Another example of a locally owned restaurant seeking to establish itself amid the chains is BRGR, a gourmet burger joint that opened this month in the Power and Light district.

BRGR has been a popular spot in Corinth Square shopping area in Prairie Village (4038 W. 83rd St.) for several years and is hoping to capitalize on that success in a more urban setting at 14th and Main. You’ll be paying about double what you would at the Burger King around the corner, but you won’t hate yourself for it later.

The downtown BRGR features several entrees as well as its delicious, hearty burgers, and the patio makes for an excellent spot to grab a happy hour cocktail or small plate.

On a final Power and Light note, don’t forget that this Friday and Saturday Taylor Swift will be performing at the Sprint Center in support of her RED album. Tickets are still available at the Sprint Center website, but only in the $69-and-up range.

UniverSoul Circus

A more traditional circus will be in town for a five-day, 10-show stand when UniverSoul Circus sets up camp in Swope Park from July 31 to Aug. 4. This year’s theme, “Turn’t Up!”, features a brand-new big top tent and performers from the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Vietnam, South Africa, Russia, Ethiopia and West Africa. Events include clowns, contortionists, high-wire acts, big cats and more.

Tickets range from $16 to $30 and are for sale at ticketmaster.com. Check out some of the dazzling images at universoulcircus.com for a preview.

First Friday

Finally, this weekend’s First Friday art walk in the Crossroads should pack the streets with foot traffic and exciting events.

If you’re unsure where to start, the area around 18th Street and Baltimore is a good spot to find fun street vendors, buskers, breakdancers and more.

It’s also in close proximity to galleries like Weinberger Fine Art (1800 Baltimore), which will be showcasing the colorful, large-scale works of area painters Brady Legler and Wes Benson, a Kansas University graduate.

— Lucas Wetzel is a KU graduate and Kansas City native who has worked as a writer, editor and language trainer in the U.S. and Europe. Know of an upcoming event in Kansas City you’d like to see featured in Kansas City Connection? Email us about it at kcconnection@ljworld.com.

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