The KC Current break ground, the NWSL Playoff field is set and more
The IX: Soccer Monday with Kathleen Gier, Oct. 10, 2022
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hello and Happy Soccer Monday! My name is Kathleen Gier and I am filling in for Annie Peterson this week with updates from the historic stadium groundbreaking on the Missouri side of Kansas City.
Back in October 2021, the Kansas City Current announced intentions to build the first women’s soccer-specific stadium in the United States. The first renderings were released in May and this Friday, the team took another big step as owners Chris and Angie Long, and Brittany Mahomes, plunged teal shovels into the ground to kick off the start of construction.
The photo-friendly patch of dirt was painted with the message “Making History” and the club’s crest. The Christopher S. Bond Bridge provided a powerful backdrop to the north with the city skyline visible to the south.
The stadium has a projected capacity of 11,500 and will sit on the banks of the Missouri River. It is privately funded, just like the team’s training facility in nearby Riverside, Mo. that opened earlier this summer.
“I think this year has been a testament to what investing in this sport and in the women will do for a team,” General Manager Camille Levin Ashton said. “We are in the playoffs now and have a lot more to accomplish but it has really been a historic year for the club on the field and so much of that is because of the investment in these players.”
The fifth-seeded Current is slated to face the No. 4. Houston Dash on Oct. 16 in the NWSL quarterfinals.
The event started with a press conference held in front of local politicians, design teams and other stakeholders. Attention then turned to the public portion of the evening, with food trucks lining the paths of Berkeley Riverfront Park and a local band providing entertainment before a short panel presentation.
The Longs, NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman, Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Quinton Lucas, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, and Port KC President Jon Stephens each spoke briefly. Mahomes was called away midway through by her tired toddler. USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski, who is a Kansas City resident now, provided a recorded statement too. He coached FC Kansas City, the city’s former NWSL franchise that won two back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.
Andonovski, of course, missed the event because he was in London at Wembley Stadium with the USWNT which fell 2-1 to England in front of a record crowd. The USA is back in action Tuesday against a troubled Spain team at El Sadar Stadium in Pamplona.
Although it was a mostly positive affair, there was a steady undercurrent of statements like “especially right now” or “after this week” referring vaguely to the investigation by Sally Q. Yates. Annie will have more on that in the weeks ahead.
On the other side of the NWSL Playoff bracket, expansion side San Diego Wave FC will face the Chicago Red Stars on Oct. 16 as well. The winner will advance to play Portland Thorns FC. The winner of the Current and Dash will play the OL Reign in the semifinals. The championship is set for Oct. 29 at Audi Field in Washington D.C.
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Five at The IX: Interview with KC Current owners Chris and Angie Long
I had a few minutes to catch up with the Longs before they put on their teal hard hats and went to work Friday breaking ground.
Question: How good does it feel to finally have this public and ready to go?
Chris Long: “It’s amazing. Surreal. We pulled up here this morning and thought, ‘Wow. This is happening today and it’s going to make history.’”
Angie Long: “We know that it’s a beautiful spot, but being here? This spot is magical.”
Question: What has the highlight been for you so far (in the first two seasons with the Current)?
Chris: “The highlight for us is the ownership that we are able to give these elite athletes. They own their training facility, they own this stadium. That is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
Question: What does this mean for women’s soccer for this to come from the Midwest?
Angie: “I love that we’re leading. I love that everyone can look at Kansas City and see what is happening here first.”
Chris: “I feel like we are raising the bar. For professional women’s teams to compete in the future, they are going to have to consider quite heavily elite facilities.”
Question: What have reactions been like around the league (to building the stadium)?
Angie: “We have heard a lot more concretely on the training facility really and have fielded a lot of calls from owners just wanting to tour it, wanting to understand it much like we did before we built the training center. We went to different clubs and looked at all the soccer training facilities and people are doing the same. It is happening like we had hoped it would where we are providing a catalyst for other teams to make the investment.”
Question: Especially after this week, how much does this investment matter right?
Chris: “I think it’s critical. It’s certainly a bright spot. It is something that from an investment standpoint is going to be a catalyst. People are going to see it and it’s a signal that if you really want to do it right for professional women’s athletes, this is what’s necessary.”
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