Kansas City Wizards’ New Stadium Plans, Surprisingly Good

Wizards New Stadium Plans Rendering 2The other day, we and some of our commenters poked a little fun at the Kansas City Wizards’ plans for the future, which include moving to a minor league baseball stadium for the 2008 and 2009 stadium. Several Wizards fans stepped up to defend their team, and we’re not afraid to eat humble pie here as we’ve given their future more thought, and considered OnGoal’s (their owners) plans for 2010.

I still think that Wizards executive vice president Greg Cotton’s blathering about the ‘experiential’ nature of soccer and the useful proximity of a shopping center are not the kind of thing that actually promotes the league well. Still, the CommunityAmerica Ballpark should facilitate a better atmosphere than playing in a giant, empty NFL stadium, and I’ll stop by next season to see if the Cauldron can live up to their promise to make the place rock.

More importantly, though, the Wizards plans for a new stadium are far more promising than I realised. Indeed, in the intervening time, a critical redevelopment plan for the new stadium was approved by the Kansas City Tax Increment Financing Commission and is expected to pass the City Council next month. It then needs approval by the Missouri General Assembly, which if achieved should allow ground to be broken next year and an opening date of 2010.

Wizards New Stadium Plans Rendering 1The $143 million new stadium complex (renderings on the right) would replace a blighted area with an 18,500-seat stadium and a considerable office/retail complex alongside it. That’s an ideal size stadium (with room for expansion) for the “Wiz” (as they were originally known).

“This is an opportunity to change this area from a field of despair to a field of dreams, soccer dreams,” said Kansas City Councilwoman Cathy Jolly, whose district includes the Bannister Mall area.

In addition to the stadium, the first phase of the development includes a 250-room hotel, 12 tournament soccer fields, 609,000 square feet of retail space and 610,500 square feet of office space.

The entire 467-acre project, when fully developed over 10 years, is projected to cost an estimated $943 million and create more than 6,500 full- and part-time jobs, according to the developer.

Now, this project has to be seen as more-or-less the last chance for the Wizards to establish a permanent home there. Previous proposals have gone nowhere, and MLS is at the stage where a team moving from temporary digs to temporary digs would be a blight on the league.

But I must say all signs point to this project moving forward: there doesn’t seem to be much serious opposition, local politicians are in favour, the redevelopment would be good for the city, and OnGoal look like they know what they’re doing. Sure, there might be better potential MLS markets elsewhere in the U.S., but the league can expand to include them anyway. If Kansas City is viable permanently as it seems it could be, their fans of a dozen years shouldn’t suffer the way San Jose fans did by losing their franchise.

And that’s great news for MLS. Another team firmly established in the midwest speaks well for the league: even if they only draw 12-15,000 a game, so what if they’ve got a solid stadium, good support and a viable future?

18 thoughts on “Kansas City Wizards’ New Stadium Plans, Surprisingly Good

  1. Kent

    I heard the coach on FFF the other night. He was really positive about the Wizard’s future. He wasn’t joking.

  2. jr

    Any MLS fan from another team who has interacted with the new ownership of the Kansas City Wizards is instantly jealous. These guys care about making this community better. They’re entrepreneurs, innovators, and really believe in the success of soccer here and throughout the United States.

  3. Bob S

    Sounds great and I’ll definitely be happy to eat my words once they put steel in the ground. Permanent stadiums like this are whats going to make the league competitive and truly world-class. We may not be one of the huge leagues for a long time but if the facilities are good and the fans are passionate then that’s all that matters.

    Best of luck but I’m always a pessimist about MLS stadiums.

  4. szazzy

    Robb Heineman. He’s one of a group of owners.

    OnGoal, LLC is comprised of six principals: Neal Patterson, Cliff Illig, Pat Curran, David French, Robb
    Heineman, and Greg Maday.

    Neal Patterson pumped the keg for the Cauldron in Colorado. Greg Maday went out of his way to find me and thank me for helping put together a 150 flag TIFO. All have been spotted at our tailgates at one point or another.

    It’s going to be slow growth here in KC until the new stadium opens, but these guys are doing it the right way. They’re recapturing and encouraging the adult hardcore fanbase after 11 years of the opposite by Hunt Sports Group.

  5. Mike

    Good stuff for the league as a whole. The league is only as good as smallest market, least-supported team and sorry, KC fans, but I think you guys qualify on both counts (though Red Bull certainly has weaker fan support per capita). Making a permanent commitment of soccer support in the middle of football/Nascar country speaks volumes for the evolution of the league. If this can be completed and the team’s record stays strong through this period this will really be a league success. It will bode well for the DEPTH of growth of professional soccer in this country. As nice as it was financially and visibility-wise, the flashy Beckham-style signings which rouse the mainstream sports press aren’t going to stabilize the league. This will. Kansas City’s market stretches over a wide area and an established fanbase who is rewarded for their patience will spread the word more convincingly that the MLS is a major league with national support. It also helps to know that this is really the last shot for the Wizards to stay here and that St. Louis is hungry and waiting less than four hours away.

    Good luck in keeping it all rolling!

    Now if only Mayor Fenty can let DC United can get its act together…

    DC United fan

  6. Wade

    Actually this is NOT the Wizards “last shot” to stay in K.C. It is merely the best shot at this point in time. One can’t imagine the approval of this redevelopment project falling through, but if it does… there are other options/locations in the pipeline.

    Mr. Dunmore, your lack of journalistic talent is showing. How can you feel competent in writing negative press about such an issue when you obviously don’t have a solid background or knowledge of the subject? Really now. You aren’t even aware of who the owners of the Wizards actually are? Shame on you. Perhaps you could put forth a tad bit more effort before you continue your pessimistic trashing of a viable local success story.

    The Wizards have been around for 12 years. How long have you been “interested” in soccer?

    Hummm. That’s what I thought.

  7. Thomas Dunmore Post author

    Could you try harder to be pompous next time you comment, wade?

    To answer your question, 25 years.

    Finally, this is a blog.

  8. Wade

    Oh, I get it. You call me “pompous”… which means what? That your journalistic talent really is lacking. Good one.

    25 years of “interest” in soccer, and you still can’t type something news worthy on the topic? Another good one.

    Pompi to Dunmore. Your glob is more done than you know. Oops. My bad.

  9. Thomas Dunmore Post author

    Wade, this is a blog. We write about vastly different topics and places everyday, and I am doing it in my spare time out of love for the game.

    I make mistakes, and I count on readers, often more informed than me, to correct them. And they do, as in this case. That’s the beauty of blogging. Most comments and corrections are offered in a constructive spirit.

    Yours, I felt, was indeed pompous, but if you did not intend to be anthing but helpful, I apologise.

    If this were the work of a professional journalist, you’d have made a stinging commeny, but again, this is a blog.

  10. Scott

    Anybody else noticed that your new ground in KC has a non-seated east end? Can anyone say “terraces”? (I say that like it’s a good thing.)

  11. kt



    no terraces unfortunately. The owners of the stadium wouldn’t let OnGoal build them, though they did ask.

  12. Scott

    I love these plans.

    I know I said it before, but I’m not against the temporary minor league ballpark solution either!

  13. papa bear

    I have to say, all the drawings I’ve seen of this stadium look amazing. It could well be the best in MLS if they come to fruition I really don’t rate RBNY Park as the best despite the oooing and aaahhhing of their supporters. It’s nice but c’mon, it’s a ring of seats with a roof on it, not exactly groudbreaking architecture. Hell, even the proposed DC stadium looks several orders more interesting.

    Most of all it’s exciting to see people break away from the stage at one end model. I love that the Fire have a stadium, but that end of the stadium always looks out of place, which sucks because the rest of the park looks great. I wish they wouldn’t do something so the stage roof would go away and just make it a standing section.