The key to the future of U.S. Soccer may be found in a geographically interesting place – Kansas City, Kansas.
Sporting Kansas City has been touted as a model franchise for Major League Soccer, and soon, the heart of America may also be the heart of the beautiful game in the United States.
Kansas state officials and the owners of Sporting Kansas City, recently announced plans to develop a $75-million, 109-acre facility in the city in an effort to centralize U.S. Soccer operations, training facilities, and soccer development programs for players, coaches and referees.
“Player and coaching development is a main focus for US Soccer, and we are pleased that Sporting Club is pursuing a world-class training facility to help the sport continue to grow and advance,” said United States Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati.
The facility will include a 100,000 square foot indoor facility with a practice field, eight lighted professional quality outdoor fields, and eight youth fields.
Plans also include other amenities tailored for player development – including facilities geared for strength and nutrition, hydration, sports science, health and wellness, and video analytics. The complex will also feature a 125-room extended stay hotel.
The facility is to be designed by Kansas City’s own sports architecture firm Populous, who also designed nearby Sporting Park, as well as iconic soccer stadiums worldwide, including Wembley and Emirates Stadiums in London, Soccer City in South Africa, and Arena das Dunas in Brazil.
It is hoped that the facility will hold training camps at the youth and senior level for both men’s and women’s U.S. Soccer teams, and its proximity to Sporting Park would facilitate future international matches in the area. State officials estimate economic impact exceeding $1 billion for the facility and related development in jobs, tourism, and future economic impact.
“This is a great opportunity for us to continue to grow soccer in Kansas City and further establish being the soccer capital of America,” according to Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman, with “the ultimate goal of helping the United States win the World Cup through youth soccer development, coaching training, advanced sports science and world-class facilities.”
There are ongoing negotiations on the project terms, but construction is slated to begin this fall, and it is hoped that the facility will be opened in time for the 2016 Copa America tournament.
With American soccer on the rise in quality and interest, a facility of this magnitude, modern and centralized, will no doubt help accomplish the goal of the U.S. Soccer Federation — to win World Cups. If we are to be competitive in world soccer, quality physical facilities for both youth and professionals are an important first step in accomplishing that goal.