A Training Center, and Quality Soccer, Bringing People to KC

Good decisions for soccer in America is making Kansas City the place to be
by Katherine Rupp   |   Thursday, July 31, 2014

State of SKC - column on Sporting KC (SKC) & the Kansas City soccer scene.

Kansas City is cementing itself as the place to be for soccer – for both national team supporters and for MLS fans. With the recent news of – what pretty much is – a compound for a national team to train, not to mention the recent hot-streak that Sporting Kansas City is on, it's no wonder the Midwest city is attracting soccer supporters and soccer business plans.

With the rebrand from the Kansas City Wizards to Sporting Kansas City in 2011, a proverbial new leaf had been turned in the city from one of struggling soccer market to one that is thriving and booming.

Not only did the rebrand to Sporting KC help the city to come together around a soccer team, the new stadium that is Sporting Park – arguably one of the best stadia in the nation – was built; and under the ownership of Robb Heineman and company, the digital and technology platform that runs through the stadium to build and attract fan engagement - Sporting Innovations – has helped grow the name recognition of the stadium and team to national and international levels. (Back in April, Sporting Innovations landed a deal with the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust to use the technology at the Australian complex.)

But of course, the shrewd moves that the club makes are always ongoing and that’s why the recent news of a national training ground located in Kansas City, Kansas, was no surprise to those in the soccer circle.

The move to build a world-class training facility – the National Training and Coaching Development Center – that will eventually include eight professional fields, eight youth fields, an indoor facility with practice field covering 100,000 square feet, as well as a full-service hotel, is one of the smartest moves that Sporting Club has made.

Through just location, Kansas City is an intelligent ‘yes’ because by being in the middle of the country, when the US Men’s National Team comes in to practice, it’s a more centralized locale for nearly every coach, player, and member of the training staff. Not only will the facility hold US national team members, referees and coaches are expected to flood into the city of fountains to further hone the craft that comes with a career in professional soccer, whether it’s playing, officiating, or coaching.

In addition to the news of opening up the National Training and Coaching Development Center in Kansas City – which is expected to break ground sometime in the fall of 2014 – still, the main event for soccer in Kansas City is Sporting KC. And the team is something to pay attention to, not just because of news that Sporting Club is tackling such a huge project for soccer as the Center, but also because of the quality of team that is being led out onto the pitch every week. In all of July (without accounting for the Manchester City friendly that ended up 4-1 to City), Sporting KC came away with 13 points out of 15 points from 5 games, with the only draw coming against the Chicago Fire and the other four games as wins – of which only one of those four winning games in July was at home.

With Sporting Kansas City leading the way in the Eastern Conference – and in Major League Soccer with decisions to build and open a national training center – they have shown what a force an organization can be when players want to play for a specific team, when a coach is goal-oriented and pushes players to the quality the coaching staff, players and fans expect, and also when a team acts like a team and enjoy playing with each other. Coming up in August, Sporting Kansas City already start their campaign to continue through the group stages of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) when the team plays in Nicaragua on August 19 and continue MLS play that weekend on August 23.

So whether it’s Major League Soccer play and always with the collective team eye on MLS Cup, along with advancing in CCL, and the dedicated planning for the National Training and Coaching Development Center, Sporting Kansas City – and Sporting Club – have the (soccer) world in the palm of its hands. The evolution of soccer in Kansas City is a spectacle to behold and, to the delight of many, will only showcase – even more – the state of soccer in the United States and in Kansas City with the training center, and the advancement of Sporting KC in MLS post-season and the CONCACAF Champions League.

NEXT UP: August 1 – Sporting Kansas City v. Philadelphia Union, Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kansas. 8 p.m. EST, NBCSN.

Katherine RUPP

Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.