De Soto — Mayor Dave Anderson hopes a soccer complex in a suburb north of Dallas could be the model for a future home of the Kansas City Wizards in De Soto.
Anderson confirmed that De Soto was among Johnson County cities responding to an invitation from Major League Soccer and Hunt Sports Group to submit preliminary information on where a soccer complex could be built. The cities were asked to propose 220-acre sites for a 20,000-seat stadium, 17 championship quality youth fields and 30 to 50 acres of commercial development.
Other cities known to have submitted sites are Gardner, Overland Park, Olathe and Lenexa.
Anderson and four others from De Soto were among a Johnson County delegation to visit Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, the home of another Lamar Hunt-owned MLS team, FC Dallas. They saw an $80 million complex with a 21,000-seat stadium and 17 youth fields - much like what the MLS and Hunt team would like to see built somewhere in Johnson County.
From what he saw in Frisco, Anderson said it was easy to visualize the complex in De Soto.
"It's a parallel town to De Soto," he said. "There's an old, established old town, and then across the railroad out near the highway is this new thing.
"It's 30 minutes from Love Field. De Soto is 30 minutes from KCI. It's almost eerily similar."
Like Frisco, De Soto is connected to the urban centers via a freeway. Easy access from Kansas Highway 10 would seem to be one of De Soto's strengths, Anderson said. Another trait De Soto shared with Frisco could also be to its benefit, Anderson said. There are large amounts of available relatively flat land near De Soto that could be bought much cheaper than in the larger cities, he said.
"The thing we offer is a large open or undeveloped area," Anderson said. "If you have a game or concert, there will be no neighbors to complain about the lights, no neighbors to complain about the noise, no neighbors to complain about the traffic.
"You can be close to a developed area in Johnson County with a lot of hotels or whatever, or you can create that."
The Frisco complex was built with Hunt Sports Group contributing $25 million, the city and county each putting up $20 million, and the local school district secured passage of a $15 million bond issue for a smaller soccer stadium.
De Soto doesn't have that kind of money to throw around, Anderson said. But he said county cities agreed there would be no bidding war.
De Soto Economic Development Council Executive Director Sara Ritter said the city's location on the county's western fringe was an asset. It would open opportunities to the complex beyond the metropolitan Kansas City and suburban Johnson County, she said.
"Our message is we are associated with that, but we also tap into Lawrence, KU and Topeka," she said.