Thursday, November 15, 2012

Practice Facility Expansion on Hold

The city of Kansas City has a plan to expand the soccer complex in Swope Park that includes the Sporting KC training facility, but that plan has run into some trouble because of the funding.  The city is behind a proposed $23.1 million plan that would add fields and amenities to the area at 63rd St and Lewis Road in Kansas City, Missouri.

The plan calls for the expansion of the training facility, including the grounds of the facility, office space and adding an auditorium and classrooms in the facility according to this layout.   It also calls for 7 fields with lights as well as some synthetic surface fields along with grass.  It'll take the entire area around the Sporting training facility and turn all of it into a soccer complex that could host larger tournaments. 

As I said above though, the plan has run into some funding issues.  The money that the city wants to use is from the Winchester Center TIF Plan.  That TIF plan saw the building of the DST Systems, KMBC TV studio, and Time Warner offices all to the East of Sporting's training complex.  The reason for the funding issue is because other jurisdictions believe the funds should be returned to them since the belief is that this is outside the scope of the original TIF.  In a way that is true, as the Winchester Center TIF Plan was placed well before the team was even founded.  The $11.1 million that the city wants to use has been in the TIF account since 1991, 5 years before the then KC Wiz even played their first game.

I understand the argument from the side of the Raytown Public Schools and Mid-Continent Public library, two of the other jurisdictions calling for the return of the funds.  There is certainly a lot that those two could do with the $11.1 million.  On the other hand, that money has been there for 21 years now and only now when it seems that the city has found another use for the funds are they really stepping forward about the funds. 

The argument for the complex continues to be the lack of not just soccer fields, but quality soccer fields.  Since the building of the Overland Park Soccer Complex, it has been booked full basically every weekend and on week nights with leagues, tournaments, and practices, bringing a lot of money into the surrounding economy as parents have to buy dinner or find a hotel on tournament weekends.  And complaints about the overcrowding of the facility are fairly well spread.  There is definitely room for another high quality facility, especially on the Missouri side.  The most competitive club teams in the KC area play on the Kansas side of the state line (save the Sporting KC developmental academy teams that play at Swope currently), forcing Missouri teams to go across state lines.  It's been this way ever since I started playing club ball about 20 years ago now.  While facilities like Legacy Park in Lee's Summit have tried to fill the gap, there's still a lack of quality fields on the Missouri side. 

1 comment:

Ed said...

The only issue that I have with any of this is the fences that are around every field. There would be no more walk up and play like their is now. now how will each of those be opened and closed? Who knows and I didn't see anything in there that stated one way or another. I understand that to keep the fields nice, especially grass fields, you have to limit access a bit but if it is paid for by taxpayer dollars then some fields should be free access. I also agree with you about the fact that this has been sitting for 21 years and now since someone came up with an idea they want the money returned. @ed_blythe