Monday, August 5, 2013

FC Kansas City Playoffs at Sporting Park: Pipe dream or possibility?

If you think this is a capital idea, sign the petition. 

One Can Dream...
Congratulations to FC Kansas City on clinching a playoff spot in the inaugural season of the NWSL last night  with a 3-2 win against Alex Morgan, Christine Sinclair (no relation!) and the Portland Thorns.  I have been to three FC Kansas City games this year at Shawnee Mission NW stadium Verizon Field.  I'm a soccer fan and a Kansas City fan and I'm hopeful that all of our teams can succeed here including the Brass, KC Shock, and the Comets.  If we are going to proclaim our city "Soccer Capital of America" as Sporting KC has over All-Star Week and with the courting of the US Soccer training facility here, we need all of our teams to flourish even if they don't belong to Sporting Club.

And how do we show our region and our country that soccer is flourishing here and that we deserve to have the US Soccer (Men's and Women's) training facility here? We show case our winning teams in the best venue suited for them.  Right now FC Kansas City is drawing 75% (4,597) capacity crowds at Verizon Field which is decent enough for second in the league.  But now that they are in the playoffs one would expect some increased attention and potential increased ticket sales.  But if you have been to one game at Verizon Field and seen the football lines and the turf, you might wish that when the stakes are really high that our Kansas City team can play on the best field available.

The best field available right now that can hold more than 6,150 max capacity of Verizon Field is Sporting Park.  BUT there are potential objections and I would like to address them here in the naive hope that we the fans can better support our clubs.

But this is business: Yes Sporting Club (owners of Sporting KC) and Top of the Arc (TOTA) (owners of FC Kansas City and the Missouri Comets) are different business entities, but in reality them working together makes great business sense to both sides, to the city, to the growth of the sport and to the fans. I don't have any insider information of they get along or they hate each other, because frankly I don't see much interaction between the two groups in the media.  It seems like a distant acknowledgement of each other from the front offices.

The TOTA business case for FC Kansas City playing at Sporting Park is easy.
  • Potential for a very high visibility match in KC and nationwide
  • Higher attendance, potentially higher revenue
  • New eyeballs that might never come to Verizon Field
  • Treating their players and opponents to a first tier field/facility
  • Potential to make a case longer term for a first class 6,000-12,000 seat stadium for the team in the future that benefits the team and the city
The Sporting Club business case for FC Kansas City playing at Sporting Park is a little more indirect:
  • Back up the claim that KC is the "Soccer Capital of America"
  • Chance to show how the facility is can be the frame/environment that makes any match look good
  • Follow-up on the promise for other teams using Sporting Park
  • Show US Soccer that it is committed to the Women's game and cooperation in soccer which may help solidify the Training Facility potential
  • Create more goodwill among soccer fans in Kansas City
  • Make a case for one day fielding their own Women's team (here or even in an nearby city like Omaha, OKC, or St. Louis even - Sporting Club does not have to be tied to KC if it wants to be a global brand.)
  • Take a healthy guaranteed share of the gate revenue and even merchandise/food/parking revenue
  • Staff a SKC STH booth and get more people signed up on the waiting list
  • Have SKC players do autograph/photo ops.
  • And potentially make the argument that someday big Sporting KC games should take place at Arrowhead.

No one in KC but the owners care that there are two different owners.  The players show up at each others games.  I stood in line for a Port-a-John with Sinead Farrelly and Desiree Scott in the Parking Lot of Sporting Park.  SKC players have been seen at FCKC games.  The fans for both teams overlap as well. Sure there are many many more SKC fans as attendance and apparel numbers will tell you, but there is plenty of overlap. And we as fans don't really care that you are owned by different organizations.

Just because SKC is wildly successful now, they need to be a little more humble and remember what it was like to be struggling and help out other soccer teams that are trying to make a mark on our city.  It will attract more talent and more attention to the city and I doubt that NWSL and FC KC will take over popularity from Sporting KC and MLS just because they let FC Kansas City play a few games at Sporting Park.

Come on Robb Heineman and Brian this out for Kansas City and the fans for both your teams.

If you think this is a capital idea, sign the petition: