by Mary Rupert
State and local officials were ecstatic July 23 about a new $75 million U.S. Soccer National Training Center complex to be built near the Schlitterbahn at 98th and Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kan.
The economic effect of the new soccer village, including new jobs and investment, will be more than $1 billion over 30 years, Gov. Sam Brownback said in a news conference at Sporting Park. The site of the new village is a little over a mile to the northeast of the Sporting Park stadium. Also at the announcement were Sporting Club, Unified Government, Schlitterbahn and EPR Properties officials.
“This high-quality training facility with structured programming, along with Sporting Park, state-of-the-art soccer stadium, will undoubtedly transform Kansas City, Kan., and our region into one of the top soccer venues in the nation,” Mayor Mark Holland said. For Kansas City, Kan., it also will be an opportunity to bring more visitors to the destination who will spend money in the community, he said.
Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman unveiled the project, which will include a 125-room hotel, a 100-square-foot indoor training facility, eight lighted professional fields and eight youth fields. It will also include an indoor pavilion and specialized facilities. He noted that this project was the same as getting another sports franchise here. The completion date is 2016.
The intent of the project, according to officials, is to build a world-class development to train youth and adult players, coaches and referees.
The soccer complex was expanded from its original idea of solely a youth training facility to one encompassing adults, including serving as a host to the national men’s and women’s teams, at youth and adult levels. It also is expected to be used for national soccer training camps, and referee and coach education programs.
“We’ve been committed to bringing world-class destinations to Kansas City, Kan.,” Mayor Holland said. He added Kansas City, Kan., is already No. 1 in the region for soccer, if not the nation. Soccer, a growing sport, also gives youths something to aspire to, he added.
While some of the details still remain to be worked out, and approved by the Unified Government Commission, the project will use sales tax revenue bonds, according to officials.
The process of city and state approvals will probably take 90 days, Heineman said. Simultaneously, design work will be done.
Mayor Holland said the STAR bonds at this new project will not mean any change to the retirement of the Village West STAR bonds, projected in 2017.
The governor said the state of Kansas and local community can make the decision about whether STAR bonds will be issued. State Rep. Tom Burroughs said the state has given discretion to the Kansas secretary of commerce to make those decisions, and the Legislature will not step in unless a question arises.
“We’re all excited,” said Unified Government Commissioner Mike Kane about the new development. Something like this doesn’t come along very often, he added. Commissioner Jim Walters, also at the announcement, said he was glad to see the new development.
State Sen. David Haley said he supported more development in eastern Kansas City, Kan.
While the property for the new training center is in the area originally set aside for the Schlitterbahn, according to Maureen Mahoney, chief of staff for Mayor Holland, there will still be plenty of land available there for more Schlitterbahn expansion.
A resolution to set a public hearing for the proposed STAR bond district and project plans is on the UG agenda for Thursday, July 24, at 7 p.m. If approved, the public hearing date would be Aug. 28. Described in the agenda is a project area between 94th Street and I-435, from Parallel Parkway to State Avenue. Sources said there also is additional land east of 94th Street under negotiation for this project.