Sam Mellinger

KC’s case as soccer capital of America is strengthening

It was pandemonium Sunday evening at the Power & Light District, as soccer fans were sent into a frenzy as the U.S. Women’s team scored four quick goals on Japan in the World Cup final being shown on the big screen at the event downtown.
It was pandemonium Sunday evening at the Power & Light District, as soccer fans were sent into a frenzy as the U.S. Women’s team scored four quick goals on Japan in the World Cup final being shown on the big screen at the event downtown. RSUGG@KCSTAR.COM

There is a movement here locally to brand Kansas City as the soccer capital of America.

It’s a cute title, something for the soccer community here to grab onto, but also something that is entirely subjective and made-up and that other cities could beef with.

Except the evidence continues to push in Kansas City’s direction. Sporting is one of MLS’ best-run organizations, playing home games in a gorgeous and always sold out stadium. There are good facilities all over the city, and a National Training and Coaching Development center is on the way.

But the clearest indication is soccer passion, and in that way, Kansas City continues to show out.

You could see that with more than 10,000 people — they had to close the doors, for safety — watching Sunday’s women’s World Cup final at the Power and Light District, and you can certainly see it in the TV numbers:

The numbers were huge all over the country, a 77 percent increase over the 2011 final, and a virtual tie with the seventh game of last year’s World Series. But the numbers were particularly big in Kansas City. That means that one in five households with a television were tuned into the game here, and that of the TVs turned on, more than one in three were on the game.

The actual number of people in Kansas City watching that game was even higher, not just because the 10,000 or so at the Power and Light District technically count as one television, but all the other watch parties and bars around town.

Obviously, Kansas City isn’t the only place with watch parties, but the one at the Power and Light District got more than its share of national airtime.

The title of soccer capital of the world remains subjective, and driven by branding. But the case is also solidifying, seemingly with every major soccer event that’s televised.

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365 or send email to smellinger@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.

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