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America's Next Top Soccer Star

KING Seattle will feature not one but two kinds of football on Super Bowl Sunday. The Belo station and the Seattle Sounders professional soccer squad are beating the bushes for America's next "footie" star, the winner getting a contract and roster spot when the expansion team joins Major League Soccer next year. The NBC affiliate will air the finale of its reality series The Sounders Super Search live after the big game Feb. 1, when a winner is selected.

While KING is obligated to stick with network programming directly after the Super Bowl, Super Search will air right after that. It will be hosted by Kevin Calabro, formerly the voice of the NBA's SuperSonics and now of the Sounders. KING will build up to the finale with Super Search segments in its Evening Magazine program starting in January.

The intersection of soccer and showbiz is hardly a coincidence for the Sounders, whose backers include bigwig film producer Joe Roth and The Price is Right host Drew Carey (who may be a judge on Super Search), along with Seattle Seahawks/Portland Trailblazers owner Paul Allen. Sounders games will air on both KING and sister KONG when the season kicks off in March.


KING VP/Station Manager Pat Costello said the idea for a soccer-style American Idol, a joint venture between the station and the team, came after the MLS' Chivas USA club conducted an open tryout, with the winner getting a spot on the practice squad. Not only did "a zillion people try out," says Costello, but the winner ended up moving up from the scrub squad and starring for Chivas. The Sounders are hosting tryouts around Seattle on three successive weekends in November, with standouts selected to appear on Super Search.

KING is betting on the strong soccer following in the area. A Sounders spokesperson says over 17,000 season ticket packages have been sold for games at Qwest Field. Xbox 360 Live is on board as a sponsor—a perk of having Allen, a Microsoft co-founder, in the owners' box—as is Disney (Roth was chairman of Walt Disney Motion Pictures). Says Costello: "There's a core here that really appreciates the game."