The crux of the long-term plan for Sporting Kansas City, a path toward sustained success, has narrowed in recent years toward amplifying youth soccer in the region. Quantity and quality.
On Thursday, Sporting Club unveiled a completed project that it believes will enhance both.
In conjunction with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Mark Holland, the club held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for 12 new youth soccer fields — the Wyandotte Sporting Fields— located between State Avenue and Parallel Parkway.
“This will be an anchor piece for us,” Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said. “This facility over the course of the next 20 years will support hundreds of thousands of youth players here in the region.”
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Sporting Kansas City will call the new facility the home base for its 15 affiliates, which are stationed throughout the Midwest.
The $12-million, 52-acre project was funded primarily through sales tax revenue (STAR) bonds. A mile west, the National Training and Coaching Development Center has a target completion date of Nov. 1.
“This is a joint project that’s come together from the state, unified government, private sectors, Sporting KC and a number of private investor entities,” Brownback said. “... This is a model that works. And it’s been working well in this area. And it’s been working well off a partnership of people that politically you could say don’t agree.”
The complex sits three miles from Children’s Mercy Park, the home stadium for Sporting Kansas City. It features eight synthetic turf fields that will open Monday, along with four natural grass fields slated to open in the fall.
Heineman said the hope is for the complex to host between eight to 10 youth soccer tournaments annually, with a study showing it will bring more than 1 million visitors to the area yearly.
The plans for the youth fields were initially made in 2009, when Sporting Club, the state and local governments struck a deal to construct Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting Club has since provided futsal courts sprinkled throughout Wyandotte County.
“These were originally planned to be at the Wyandotte County Park, (but) we had some questions about whether we wanted to give up park space for soccer fields,” Holland said. “This became a better option to move them over here closer to the training center, closer to Village West.
“Really, the goal of STAR bonds is to bring visitors to the state and to the community that wouldn’t come here otherwise to generate new sales tax dollars. It’s working in an overwhelming positive manner.”