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By ESPN Staff

Stadium's inaugural game to take place in '07

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Against the backdrop of a 30-foot deep hole the size of its new stadium, Kroenke Sports Enterprises (KSE) today marked the start of construction on the new Prairie Gateway sports and entertainment complex in Commerce City, Colo. Colorado Governor Bill Owens blew a ceremonial first whistle, starting an on-field soccer scrimmage between members of the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer team, who were joined by soccer and lacrosse players from Commerce City's Alsup Elementary School.

"What a great day for Kroenke Sports, for Commerce City and for all of Colorado," Governor Owens said. "The stadium at Prairie Gateway will become the newest gem among the area's major sports venues. The investors who have made this a reality are giving this community far more than a sports venue and an economic engine - this is a facility that will bring families together in a wholesome setting."

"The Kroenke Sports organization could not be more proud to be starting work on the Prairie Gateway development," KSE Executive Vice President Paul Andrews said. "We are making a commitment to providing a world class facility and world class youth sports program in the heart of the West."

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber announced that the Rapids will play the stadium's inaugural game on April 21, 2007, starting a 570-day countdown to Opening Day of the Rapids' 12th season in Colorado.

"As the world's largest soccer complex, the new Rapids stadium in Commerce City will revolutionize the sport of soccer in Colorado and change the face of the sport in the region," Garber said. "Alongside stadium developments in other cities across America and the recent opening of Pizza Hut Park in Texas, this facility is further proof that soccer in the United States continues to gain momentum."

Andrews noted that the stadium will be home to not just the Rapids, but will serve as the summer home of the National Lacrosse League's Colorado Mammoth. The NLL indoor team has seen huge success in three seasons in Denver and will base its youth lacrosse programs at Prairie Gateway. NLL Commissioner Jim Jennings was on hand for the ceremonies.

"This is a market full of enthusiastic, young lacrosse players," Mammoth general manager Steve Govett said. "We could do player clinics every single day and not meet the demand for lacrosse education. This new complex gives the Mammoth an ideal platform from which to teach young athletes."