By The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The group that owns Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday announced plans for a $75 million soccer complex that backers hope will help Kansas City become the soccer capital of the U.S.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback joined officials from Sporting Club and Wyandotte County to unveil plans for the U.S. Soccer National Training Center complex, which will be built about 10 minutes away from Sporting Kansas City's home stadium in Wyandotte County.
It will house eight youth fields and eight professional ones, including one climate-controlled indoor field, 11 outdoor grass fields and four outdoor synthetic fields.
The 190-acre soccer village, which is expected to be finished in 2016, potentially could function as the training facility for U.S. Soccer, according to Sunil Gulati, United States Soccer Federation president.
The federation is discussing a 20-year lease of the facilities, with two additional five-year options.
"This is a great opportunity for us to continue to grow soccer in Kansas City and further establish being the soccer capital of America," Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said. "To us, this is equivalent to bringing another sports franchise here, with the ultimate goal of helping the United States win the World Cup."
An economic and fiscal impact study commissioned by Sporting Club anticipates the U.S. national teams would play at least two matches at Sporting Park and hold six two-day training camps at the new center annually. U.S. Soccer would employ eight full-time staff members.
"Kansas' strong economy and Kansas City's reputation as a tremendous soccer city helped attract this state-of-the-art facility," Brownback said. "As a result, our state will benefit from new jobs, investment and an economic impact that is projected to exceed $1 billion."
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America, already located in Wyandotte County, would be expected to move its operations to the National Training and Coaching Development Center.