Kansas City adds another sports stadium to its list of athletic attractions, and this one comes with a riverside view.
The owners of the Kansas City National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) recently announced a new stadium was coming to the Berkley Riverfront area. The team also announced its new name: the KC Current.
Final designs for the stadium are still in development, but the seven-acre facility is estimated to cost around $70 million, with the team signing a 50-year lease. The stadium is also the first KC stadium built specifically for a women’s team.
The riverfront area has often been a neglected area of the city, but dropping a shiny new stadium can attract new development opportunities, like restaurants and bars, to the sparsely-populated location.
“When you build a stadium, that comes with some other added attractions,” said Michael Frisch, department chair and associate professor of urban planning and design at UMKC. “You can get dinner and then go to the game, or you go to a game and celebrate a victory at the nearby sports bar. It attracts other entertainment and recreational expenditures down and around that area.”
The riverfront area once served as the birthplace of Kansas City, but locals have since moved away from the area. The space was cast aside, even serving as a tow lot in the 1970s.
In recent years, Port KC has focused on developing this area by adding apartment complexes and Bar K, which doubles as a dog park and bar. City officials are eager to see development ramp up at the riverfront.
“The goals for reclaiming our long-neglected riverfront have been bold but clear – develop a connected, accessible, vibrant and diverse neighborhood,” said Port KC President and CEO Jon Stephens. “Anchoring a dynamic facility such as this on the downtown riverfront, and connecting it to the heart of our city with the KC Streetcar, trails and green space not only solidifies our commitment but also proves that there is no better place for our community and the world to gather.”
The stadium is set to have a streetcar stop as part of the upcoming expansion, connecting the stadium all the way to UMKC.
“Imagine leaving your 5 p.m. class and riding the streetcar to catch a game,” Frisch said. “I think that is really exciting.”
While there are positives to having a streetcar connection, Frisch also said he had some concerns.
“It’s a mixed bag,” Frisch said. “The advantage is taking the streetcar to the stadium. The negative is that the stadium is isolated to where there would be a backup on the streetcar because of the amount of people using it.”
Frisch said that sort of congestion is ultimately part of having a timed, big-crowd attraction, as the stadium will hold up to 11,000 fans.
The KC Current has previously played at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, and will continue to play there throughout the 2022 season as the new stadium begins construction. Construction is also set to begin on the team’s new $15 million training facility, which will be located in Riverside, Missouri.
“World-class facilities have proven to be a catalyst in transforming all professional sports,” said KC Current co-founder and co-owner Angie Long. “Tremendous momentum exists in women’s sports specifically, and we are so proud to play a major role in ensuring the sport and also our region benefit from the economics and growth offered by a stadium of this magnitude.”