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Archive for Monday, December 27, 2010

Sporting Kansas City’s new soccer stadium in Village West sweet

December 27, 2010

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— When I first heard the name, Sporting Kansas City, I figured it was an exclusive yacht club on the river, where captains hats, blue blazers, white slacks and topsiders are the standard wardrobe. You know, one of those places where if you laugh too loudly you get accused of “ruining our entire evening.”

It’s no such thing. It’s the Major League Soccer club that used to be known as the Wizards. Not sorry to see the Wizards go — any reference to Wizard of Oz is so trite, so outsider — but Sporting Kansas City?

Well, the parent company is the Sporting Club, and Sporting Kansas City is its soccer club, a la Sporting Lisbon, a Portuguese outfit that includes a famous soccer club.

The name doesn’t roll off the tongue, but the guess here is the new soccer-specific stadium in Village West across from the Kansas Speedway will be a huge hit from its first kick, June 9 when the Chicago Fire come to town. KC Soccer Stadium, an under-construction, 18,500-seat, $180-million venue, will be packed with sweets, suites and, most important, not a bad seat in the house. (See for yourself at the virtual tour available on www.SportingKC.com.)

It became easy, after touring the stadium on a recent see-your-breath afternoon, to project that Lawrence sports fans finally will have the chance to latch onto a big-time sports franchise that plays its home games 30 minutes away in a big-time stadium, roughly half the time it takes to watch the Royals try to win without Zack Greinke in the rotation.

The idea behind the name is consistent with the organization trying to make its fans feel not just like spectators watching soccer matches, but like members of a club.

Levels within the membership will keep the youngish beer-and-peanut crowd hanging together in a sports bar-like atmosphere inside the stadium before matches, whereas the more well-off can become members of a more pricey club and have seats that position them to high-five some of the world’s most famous players as they make their way on the walk of champions and onto the pitch.

In the suites, various camera angles, such as a closeup on the goalie, or the sidelines or the stands, are available to play on the multiple TV sets.

Given the choice, I’d rather travel 30 minutes to watch major-league baseball, but the Kansas City T-Bones don’t resemble that, and for the past several years, neither have the Royals.

The intimacy of the soccer stadium that also will be used for outdoor concerts will lead to season-ticket holders — excuse me, members — feeling connected to Sporting Kansas City’s stars, including newcomer Omar Bravo, a gifted goal scorer from Mexico.

The MLS, fired up about Kansas City’s all-in commitment to soccer, has loaded Sporting KC’s schedule with road games at the start (the season opens March 19 in Carson, Calif.) in order to ensure the stadium is ready for the home portion of the schedule, which runs deep into October.

The MLS has 18 teams, and each club plays everyone twice during the 34-match schedule, a season long enough to develop favorite players and villains and short enough to create an urgent atmosphere for every game at the state’s newest stadium.

Comments

SoccerFanatic 3 years, 3 months ago

Great article Tom...hopefully all of Lawrence gets behind the team. The place is going to be AMAZING.

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rockchalker52 3 years, 3 months ago

'Sporting Kansas City' is a fine name. It lends itself to a sense of tradition. As American Soccer, at all levels, keeps evolving, it is good to take lessons from those countries that exemplify its style. 'Sporting KC' represents the kind of style that anglo-european futbol fans get excited about.

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justforfun 3 years, 3 months ago

It's still soccer!!! Yawnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 3 months ago

It's all about marketing and it's already an uphill "sell" to Americans who still aren't into the whole soccer thing. Lisbon could call their team the "Piles of Dung" and they sell out every match...it's that big over there. Here, a whole a different story. I think the owners have made a mistake in the name. We're a culture of aggressive names, manly names, hunter/swashbuckling names. It's just the way it is and I get the impression these guys will come out riding horses, wearing Ralph Lauren, and swinging sticks.

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Bursting 3 years, 3 months ago

Wizards were fine and I don't understand why we the MLS feels the need to copy international club teams. "Sporting"? come on man, we already know its a sport and you don't have to tell us that. Wizards referring to Wizard of Oz, take a poll and ask who cares, I sure don't, in fact it doesn't and hasn't even crossed my mind.

What's our mascott going to be? A gym bag?

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