Archive for Friday, June 10, 2011

Sporting KC’s new stadium has a lot to offer

June 10, 2011


Lance Armstrong waves to the crowd during introductions before the home opener between Sporting KC and the Chicago Fire on Thursday at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Lance Armstrong waves to the crowd during introductions before the home opener between Sporting KC and the Chicago Fire on Thursday at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

— Sporting Kansas City hasn’t scored a goal in its new stadium, but the Major League Soccer club already has scored in other ways that make it an emerging player on the area sports scene.

For the athletes, Livestrong Sporting Park is as much a swanky resort spa as a soccer stadium. When they arrive at work, a nutrition drink concocted to their specifications awaits them. The chairs at their lockers put the nicest Monday morning quarterback recliner to shame. The hope is that some of the world’s top players, who generally look first to New York and Los Angeles when choosing to play in the United States, will be drawn to Kansas City because it offers the sport’s nicest office.

For the fans, wealthy power brokers and Average Joes, everybody has a place tailored to them. The stadium is built in such a way as to trap noise. The spectators don’t create an air of danger the way European soccer crowds can, but they do bring loud chants and whistles, drums and horns.

For those who have had their lives changed by cancer, the stadium’s name serves as a reminder that Lance Armstrong, the greatest cyclist of all-time, is fighting their battle with them. Armstrong was in attendance, talking to the crowd before the game and sitting in the stadium’s only yellow seat — symbolic of the wristband he made famous — in the owner’s box.

The first match played at the new digs ended Thursday night against the Chicago Fire in the most dreaded soccer score, 0-0. Bummer, but even the two-hour treadmill ride did offer a compelling player to watch.

Omar Bravo, a native of Los Mochis, Mexico, and a big global soccer name, is one of those forever-in-the-middle-of-the-action athletes. On this night, he did as much harm as good, getting called for offsides to nullify the night’s only goal. At other times, when Bravo broke free and didn’t get fed the ball, he let teammates know about their tunnel vision. Good for him. The refs didn’t see Bravo getting roughed up on a late play. Not so good for him.

“There are good players, good defenders, guys who are good with the ball,” said Sporting KC assistant coach and retired star player Kerry Zavagnin. “At the end of the day, the ones you pay the most for are the goal scorers. They don’t come to you very often.”

Sporting KC played its first 10 games on the road and stands in last place with a 1-6-4 record. Sidelined by injury, Bravo missed several matches and with him back, the club will improve.

“One of his strengths is he’s ruthless in front of the goal and that’s something that all good goal-scorers have,” Zavagnin said.

His ruthlessness doesn’t extend beyond the game. When Livestrong asked Bravo to become a global envoy encouraging people, especially those from his home country, to become pro-active about cancer, he embraced the opportunity as if it were an open net.

“We’ve found that in some Spanish-speaking cultures, men are very reluctant to seek even diagnostic services,” said Katherine McLane, Livestrong’s senior director for communications. “They’d rather not know if they have cancer because they believe it’s a death sentence. Omar can make a huge, huge difference.”


Shelley Bock 6 years, 5 months ago

Interesting article Mr. Keegan, even I learned something reading it. Glad you enjoyed the stadium and the event.

Rich Noever 6 years, 5 months ago

Looks like a great stadium but what is played in it will never rival our major sports as long as they don't update it with structural and rule changes. It is boring folks. It's like watching paint dry.

Nash45 6 years, 5 months ago

If you change the structure and the rules then it's no longer soccer.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 5 months ago

Exactly the opposite feeling, krich. The 1st half was extremely intense. The 2nd half was more a fear that Sporting would allow a goal with a man down and the no call by the referee when Bravo was tackled in the penalty area. It was much more interesting than watching paint drying, which maybe what you're doing this fall when you watch NFL football. Sorry about the lockout.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 5 months ago

Just can't get into soccer, except the World Cup, for some reason.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 5 months ago

Food for thought...

The new owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team in Washington, D.C., paid $450 million for the team. But, in fact, they got the team for free, because the subsidy they’re getting for the new stadium is worth $611 million. We actually paid these people to buy the team.

Now, in this country right now, we are spending $2 billion a year subsidizing the big four sports: baseball, basketball, football and hockey. It accounts for all of the profits of that industry and more. Now, there may be individual teams that make money, but the industry as a whole is not profitable.

And that’s astonishing because the big four leagues are exempt from the laws of competition.

By the way, irony is not dead, because there are people who are in the business of competition on the field who are exempted by law from the rules of economic competition.

eastcoasthawk 6 years, 5 months ago

Wow. Never expected a story here on the new stadium for KC Sporting. Well done. Congrats to the KC fans that now have a world class facility for the greatest sport in the world.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 5 months ago

eastcoasthawk, to give you a comparison, while much smaller in capacity, it has the new feeling of Samford Bridge (Chelsea) and The Emirates (Arsenal), but with a more American feel. Clearly not like Craven Cottage (Fulham), but that stadium is like Wrigley Field or Fenway. The technology incorporated into the structure is incredible. The one point I found amazing was how close you feel to the action. It is a totally different feeling than what you see on TV. It will become an advantage for the home side, if not already.

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