KANSAS CITY NORTH, Mo. — Sporting KC and Kansas City, Missouri, leaders broke ground Friday on a sports complex in the Northland that they believe will provide new opportunities for children involved in athletics.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is incredible, and we're ready to start the building process,” said Jake Reid, president and CEO of Sporting KC. “This project has the potential to be nationally recognized.”
Following years of debate, KCMO city council members approved in February the $37 million complex.
“This is the epitome of transparency in government," Councilman Dan Fowler said. "Two years of resolutions, ordinances, public hearings, designs, informal meetings, and discussions.".
Various youth sports teams will be able to use the complex's 10 synthetic fields, and the site also will include spaces for children who have special needs. It is expected to open at the end of summer 2022.
“Sports matters a lot," KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas said. "The opportunity to play in practice and competition matters a ton."
Councilwoman Teresa Loar said she hopes the complex will meet the needs of families north of the river.
“The children up here really had no place to go to practice or play soccer," she said. "So they are going to Johnson County — they’re going far. We will fill a need that we had in the Northland.”
Loar said the city is investing in something greater than its revenue, but the complex will undoubtedly generate money as well. Developers hope over 30 years, it will generate nearly $200 million in new sales-tax revenue.
“With this comes hotels, and restaurants and retail, and entertainment," Loar said. "A lot of things pop up around these soccer fields, because you have people waiting, people that just have the needs for those services… And you know, the Northland has the land to do that."
Mother Melinda Akers lives nearby and said she is excited to see the new development.
“As parents, especially working parents, we don't have a lot of time," Akers said. "We don't want to be driving 45 minutes there and 45 minutes back for an hour game."
But not everyone was on board with the project. Opponents argued the funds should go toward more pressing issues, such as COVID-19, crime and homelessness.