Kansas City opens new soccer stadium with $5,000 chairs, a cow, and no actual scoring

Sporting Kansas City (formerly the Kansas City Wizards, but that didn’t sound soccer enough) opened their new $200 million Livestrong Sporting Park yesterday, after spending nearly the first three months of the season on the road. And if you’re wondering what you can get in a soccer stadium for $200 million — nearly double what was spent on the Philadelphia Union‘s stadium — apparently it’s this:

More than 330 high definition televisions will be placed around the stadium, the first MLS park fully equipped for HDTV.

In the plush home locker room, players will sit on $5,000 seats imported from Spain. The seats are equipped with power docks so they can access information during halftime. The spacious media room where postgame interviews will be conducted is right next to a large bar and food area. Fans will be able to look through the glass partition to see the interviews while the audio is piped to them.

And what do those fans think of it? The game was a sellout, but according to the Kansas City Star, not everybody is planning a return trip:

During halftime, the soccer match still scoreless, fans began trickling out of the new stadium. Dominic Jones was one of those who headed for the exit. He carried a poster tube; its contents would be delivered to Jones’ daughter.

“I just wanted to come here and get the feel of it,” said Jones, 36. “It’s something for fans to be proud of. But when it’s all said and done, it’s not football.”

In other news, someone dressed as a cow ran onto the pitch during the match’s waning minutes and kicked a ball into the goal. Other than that, it was a 0-0 tie. It sure isn’t football — except for, you know, it being football.


11 comments on “Kansas City opens new soccer stadium with $5,000 chairs, a cow, and no actual scoring

  1. $200 million? Was that public money? I tend to be sympathetic to team owners who get public subsidies, but that seems insane for a 20k seat soccer stadium.

  2. Well, the new Cowboys’ stadium holds 5 times as many fans and cost 5 times a much, so it makes sense. :-)

    And the club was once called the Kansas City Wiz, and that REALLY never sounded football enough. It was great when KC played Dallas: The Wiz and Burn.

  3. There’s more than the stadium involved in this project. There’s also an amateur athletic comple and offices for Cerner Corp. (a couple of the company founders own Sporting KC).

    The total cost is about $400M for all of that, with about $230M in state and local incentives.

  4. @Dan

    Compare this to the redevelopment of Civic Stadium (now called Jeld-Wen Field), and the press coverage thereof. It may be that the Portland is much more a soccer town (and much less a football town) than KC. Or it may be they just did a better job building (or rebuilding) the building.

  5. It’s definitely not the building. By all accounts from actual soccer reporters I’ve read so far they rate the new KC stadium as the best yet in MLS. As for the newspaper coverage, it has less to do with the fans, than the biases of the particular media outlets in a given market. Seattle and Portland have press that gush about their teams as good newspapers should about the home town squads. KC obviously has press that are more the old guard who still regard soccer as a “foreign” sport. We’re similarly “blessed” with a paper like that in San Jose.

  6. I particularly enjoyed the (former player) commentator John Harkes saying “the owners have really gone all out to give the fans a wonderful stadium”.

    Funny. When the fans are paying for it (heavily), shouldn’t that quote have read “the fans have gone all out to given Heineman & co a wonderful facility”?

    The stadium is very good, though 330 HD screens does not impress me, as I would spend my time in the seating area actually watching the game I paid to come and see. If I wanted to watch it on HD tvs I would have stayed home. But to each their own…

    Carefully placed screens in concourse areas (even bathrooms) are a benefit. Hundreds of them on walls no-one can see most of the time is just stupid (see Penguins, Pittsburgh).

    It’s amazing what basic standards get elevated to when someone else is paying, isn’t it?

  7. @Dan: Remember, MLS is still a level or two below the major leagues of soccer. My view is that the press in areas like Seattle and Pirtland are too pliant in covering that fact up for their local teams.

    @Jason you said $230M in local incentives. Is that a continuing tax credits/deductions, or an initial giveaway?

  8. “[I]tÔøΩs the first athletic venue in the world with a social change mission”, Doug Ulman of LiveStrong (apparently it is the first sentient athletic venue as well).

    The stadium naming rights is interesting. For the privilege of putting “Livestrong” on its building the team gets, wait, I mean GIVES; I mean the TAXPAYER GIVES 9.5 million a year. The foundation and its founder gets all kinds of publicity while getting paid and the venue can soak in the good will (and a few percentage points goes from LiveStrong to KC cancer outreach). That’s a shrewd business move (a business move on steroids) for the foundation. It is like transitive conscience washing.

    Also, on the Freudian slip front, the head of LiveStrong mentions it is the “ideal arena to champion cancer.” Would not that be caring for people with cancer or curing cancer?

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