By TATE STEINLAGE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The U.S. Soccer Federation is heading to this burgeoning soccer mecca in a major way.
Joined by the United Government of Wyandotte County and representatives from Schlitterbahn Water Park and EPR Properties Wednesday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Sporting Kansas City CEO Robb Heineman announced the development of a U.S. Soccer National Training Center complex in Kansas City, Kan.
The new $75-plus million, 100,000 square-feet project will house the National Training and Coaching Development Center and feature 16 fields for professional and youth teams. The complex will also include a 125-room full-service hotel and facilities tailored towards strength and nutrition.
“This is a great opportunity for us to continue to grow soccer in Kansas City and further establish being the soccer capital of America,” Heineman said in a press release. “To us, this is equivalent to bringing another sports franchise here, 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. We would like to thank Governor Brownback, Secretary of Commerce George, Mayor Holland and the rest of the Unified Government. This has been a long and complex process thus far, but we’re excited for the vision of the project and to help bring substantial economic development to the area.”
“Player and coaching development is a main focus for U.S. Soccer, and we are pleased that Sporting Club is pursuing a world-class training facility to help the sport continue to grow and advance,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in the same release. “We are looking forward to working with Sporting Club on the next steps towards the creation of the National Training and Coaching Development Center and anticipate it hosting our National Teams and coaching education programming in the future.”
According to Heineman, the project is expected to break ground this fall and open in time for the United States-hosted Copa America in 2016. The complex is expected to echo Sporting Park’s innovative approach in technology and research.
“The biggest thing that we have to do is have it open for the Copa America in 2016,” Heineman said. “We’d love to be a major training site for teams in 2016 — not only the U.S., but I think we’d like to talk to Brazil and Argentina and Chile and some of those (teams) and have them in residence.
“That will probably mean that we will start moving dirt this fall. To be very candid with you, we haven’t done a ton of design yet and the reason we haven’t is because I think we want to try and have best-in-class partners with a lot of the attributes in side of this thing.
“From a sports science perspective, we want this to be the most advanced facility in the United States. We don’t necessarily have the accruement to do that today so we’re going to have to do that through partners. That’s what we’re working in earnest now is making sure we do have the best partners to make this a success with the facility that we want.”
The complex will join the Federation’s California location, which will still be used for various U.S. Soccer activities. It will be located at the southeast corner of Parallel Parkway and 98th Street in Kansas City, Kan. The entire project is anticipated to have an economic impact for the city upwards of $1 billion during the next 30 years.
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