FC Kansas City has a new home. After spending the 2013 season playing at Shawnee Mission North High School, at the district athletic complex, they are now moving to a facility without football lines. The team today announced that they've signed a two year contract with UMKC to play their games at Durwood Stadium on UMKC's campus.
The stadium, just south of the Nelson-Atkins museum and east of the Plaza, currently seats 850 people for games. As part of the agreement, capacity will be increased to 3,200, with what is apparently a mix of permanent and temporary seats (seating chart here). Back in 2010, the KC Wizards drew just over 1,200 there for a US Open Cup qualifier against the Colorado Rapids.
The move makes sense in many regards, one of the big complaints about the league as a whole last year was the number of stadiums that had football lines along with the soccer lines. The Blues at least have resolved this complaint by people watching the game as Durwood only has soccer lines.
The draw back of the move though is that the Blues will be moving to a smaller facility. Durwood seats 1,400 fewer people than FCKC's average last year at Shawnee Mission.
Club President, President Brian Budzinski tried to address some of those concerns today: “the support in our first year was beyond what we could have expected, We understand the seating capacity is smaller than what our average attendance was last season, but we felt the move to a soccer-specific facility of this caliber was important for our fans’ game day experience and for the players on the field.”
So the team is valuing a better viewing experience with a field without the football lines over a larger crowd. The stadium now becomes the second smallest in the league ahead of Chicago's Benedictine University site after Boston also announced today that they are moving to play at Harvard next year.
Personally I like the move, it shows a nice commitment by FCKC to develop the game instead of just trying to get more people into the stadium. It should also create a better atmosphere at UMKC without the large track around the field too.