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|Zach|
08-04-2011, 03:45 PM
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- On a glorious summer day not long ago, Sporting Kansas City president Robb Heineman stopped the tour he was giving me of his jaw-dropping new soccer stadium, Livestrong Sporting Park, and picked up his handheld radio.

"Can I get my Hotel California test?" he said to the person on the other end. "Crank it up, too."

Within seconds we were hearing in remarkable booming, bass-lined clarity what seemed like a live performance of the Eagles. The 37-year-old Heineman, one of the cutting-edge 30-something owners in MLS -- Portland's Merritt Paulson is another --flashed a proud smile. "We were out here a couple nights before the opening with a few friends," he said, "just sitting here drinking a couple beers with nobody in the stadium, listening to this and saying, 'Wow, this is awesome.'

The word awesome came into my mind as I toured the $200 million stadium, but not in the typical way. MLS's newest monument to the sport literally provokes awe everywhere you turn. Five years ago I never would have predicted that my hometown, an MLS graveyard for years, would ever have the kind of ambitious local owners that it has today, much less a facility that can legitimately claim to be the finest soccer stadium in North America.

What's the coolest aspect of Livestrong Sporting Park? There's a lot to choose from. Maybe it's the seats that are right on top of the (natural-grass) field, all the way around, from the $14 seats behind the goal for the Cauldron hardcores to the premium suites and field-side chairs. No wonder Kansas City's season-ticket holders have risen from 460 when the new owners took over in '06 to nearly 12,000 today. "We don't have any premium seats left," says Heineman. "Everything's gone."

Maybe it's the food-and-drink options. There's a spacious pub in one corner of the stadium where fans can get a burger, chips and a beer for $4.50, hang out after games until after midnight and even come on non-gamedays to watch, say, Champions League matches. There's the Shield Club, which offers sushi, Mexican food, sausages and Kansas City barbecue (with more than two dozen different sauces). And on the highest end there are the all-inclusive suites (tapas, tacos, drink mixologists) and the Sporting Club Victory Suite, which has a pizza oven and a wine cellar with names like Petrus, Silver Oak and Camus. "We're all kind of foodies," Heineman says.

Or maybe it's all the details. The $20 million roof that holds in all the sound. The restaurant that has direct views of the postgame news conferences and the players as they enter the field. The fieldside ball stand that was used in last year's World Cup. The distributed antenna system that allows everyone's cellphone to work. The 200 Cisco wifi access points in the roof (compared to the four Cisco put in Wembley Stadium for the Champions League final).

"We knew we needed to build more of a social place to be than just a soccer stadium," says Heineman. "If we'd put up a nice version of Crew Stadium [in Columbus] or Pizza Hut Park [near Dallas] I don't think it would do well over the long term. So we overinvested in the building. Not just in the architecture, but we tried to start with the experience first. What's the experience that we want to deliver in each one of these spaces with a bunch of different constituencies? There are different neighborhoods all over the building the way we've designed it. We really want this to be a place to be."

Or as David Ficklin, Sporting's vice president for development, said: "We had to overdeliver after 15 years of underdelivering in this market. This was our chance to reset everyone's expectations."

And not just for the fans, but for the players. The home locker room (modeled after the one at Arsenal's stadium) feels like something out of a science-fiction movie, including high-tech ergonomic seats that cost around $5,000 each.

It's the kind of investment that makes you wish Sporting could spend this much money on players instead of being governed by the league's salary cap. Maybe someday they'll be allowed to do that, but for now it's enough to be impressed that they spent big to invest in a stadium.

"Is it a big risk? Yeah, of course, it's a huge risk," says Heineman. "But the thing that has changed since the [1980s] is Kansas City has been in the top five per capita in soccer participation since that time. Now that generation of fans is in their mid-30s. I'm 37. My peers are starting to buy season tickets, and the moms have usually played soccer. So it's a different opportunity. We're also the only locally owned team. The Chiefs and Royals aren't. The five of us [owners] are very visible in the community, and generally people are going to give us the benefit of the doubt. If we deliver on the experience, I think we have a great opportunity to grow -- as long as we f---ing win."

And guess what? The winning is coming, too. After a miserable start that saw Kansas City in last place in the East as recently as June (thanks largely to an all-road schedule while the stadium was being finished), Sporting is one of the hottest teams in the league. The owner of a 14-game unbeaten streak, KC is 4-0-4 in its new stadium, one of two MLS teams along with Los Angeles to be undefeated at home. Based on points per game, if the playoffs started today Kansas City would have an automatic bid.

There are a lot of big nights in LSP's future. World Cup qualifiers are a certainty. The 2013 MLS All-Star Game is almost guaranteed -- it would have been the '12 event if the K.C. Royals weren't hosting the MLB All-Star Game. And if things keep heading in this direction, MLS playoff games won't be far behind.



http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/grant_wahl/08/04/sporting.kc/index.html#ixzz1U5wdL7Nm

Deberg_1990
08-04-2011, 04:59 PM
I watched some of the Portland/LA game last night on ESPN. The stadium and field looked great. Is the field smaller than the World Cup and Euro leagues? It appeared to be a little faster paced game than those leagues.....

|Zach|
08-04-2011, 05:00 PM
I watched some of the Portland/LA game last night on ESPN. The stadium and field looked great. Is the field smaller than the World Cup and Euro leagues? It appeared to be a little faster paced game than those leagues.....

The filed sizes vary but not by too much. Now that KC isn't playing in a baseball stadium. lol.

As far as the pace...it just depends on the matchups and the night. Some games are awesome some not so much.

Portland absolutely brings it. They are an expansion team so the team isn't quite there. Their win last night was an impressive upset.

Deberg_1990
08-04-2011, 05:05 PM
I can totally see Sporting KC sneaking up and stealing some of the Royals entertainement dollars. I get the sense than alot of people in KC are tired of throwing money away on the Royals......

Trevo_410
08-04-2011, 05:12 PM
yep^

baseball is dying

|Zach|
08-04-2011, 05:13 PM
I can totally see Sporting KC sneaking up and stealing some of the Royals entertainement dollars. I get the sense than alot of people in KC are tired of throwing money away on the Royals......

Me personally? They have completely replaced the Royals. I don't hate the Royals or anything...I wish them well. It is more so the game of baseball that left me behind. You don't even have to be a soccer fan. These games are fun they grow on you.

<iframe width="853" height="510" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/fx3tRKaAl5c?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Deberg_1990
08-04-2011, 05:27 PM
yep^

baseball is dying

I wouldn't say that, but it's defiantly a sport of haves and have nots. I've Grown tired of it personally.

KCChiefsFan88
08-04-2011, 05:31 PM
Football is here... soccer returns to non-factor status.

|Zach|
08-04-2011, 05:33 PM
Football is here... soccer returns to non-factor status.

First game in the new Arrowhead was a soccer game. Nothing is non factor. They are both pretty easy to enjoy.

CoMoChief
08-04-2011, 05:54 PM
Thought u already started a thread for this little spectator sport you call soccer?

keg in kc
08-04-2011, 06:01 PM
Like the author, I'm 37, and played soccer as a teenager (was the striker for the 16-under state runner-up in WVa many moons ago) but I just can't get into it as an adult. It's (much like baseball) a sport that I loved to play, but it's hard to watch.

Baconeater
08-04-2011, 06:05 PM
Thought u already started a thread for this little spectator sport you call soccer?
No shit, and if he had posted this in that thread (which I have on ignore), I wouldn't be responding with a "Soccer sucks" post.

lcarus
08-04-2011, 06:23 PM
I wouldn't say that, but it's defiantly a sport of haves and have nots. I've Grown tired of it personally.

It seems all the stuff I see revolving around baseball includes people falling from stands, almost falling from stands, kids getting mad that they didn't get a foul ball, a kid getting hit by a Pujols home run, a mascot making a security guy on the first base line show off his dance moves, crappy brawls, pitchers throwing "revenge pitches" to hit a batter. Stuff like that. The most interesting thing about the season so far was the Pirates/Braves home plate call. I happen to like the game of baseball. It's all right. I just hate how long the season is, and I hate how long the games last most of the time. Pitchers take way too long. Baseball desperately needs to evolve, but the traditionalists won't allow it. It would take the Royals being in the hunt for a playoff spot late in a season for me to really take some interest in MLB again.

Reaper16
08-04-2011, 10:37 PM
Soccer and Baseball are both awesome. Fuck all y'all.

Chiefshrink
08-04-2011, 10:57 PM
Zachy my man, it all makes sense now and why you are the way that you are. Somebody in the DC forum once said that soccer was for 'socialists'. :thumb:ROFL

|Zach|
08-04-2011, 11:38 PM
Zachy my man, it all makes sense now and why you are the way that you are. Somebody in the DC forum once said that soccer was for 'socialists'. :thumb:ROFL

Actually...that is pretty funny. Soccer at its highest level in the EPL, Serie A, etc is more capitalist in nature. If you win you are at the top if you lose you get relegated to a lower league.

The NFL is "much" more more socialist in nature.

Not that I care.

|Zach|
08-04-2011, 11:40 PM
No shit, and if he had posted this in that thread (which I have on ignore), I wouldn't be responding with a "Soccer sucks" post.

Sounds like your problem to deal with.

Deberg_1990
08-05-2011, 08:14 AM
The NFL is "much" more more socialist in nature.



ROFL....yes it is.

|Zach|
08-05-2011, 09:40 AM
ROFL....yes it is.

You really have to have shit for brains to be an NFL fan and then turn around and call those leagues socialist.

I have no problem with how the NFL works but JFC. Political comparison fail.

Demonpenz
08-05-2011, 12:10 PM
people in this town are going to nut their drawers when Hosmer is going for League mvp. the Sporting KC is pretty bad ass as well. I just wish they would have called it Linkin Park to help the band in it's push to be in the rock and roll hall of fame.

|Zach|
08-05-2011, 12:26 PM
people in this town are going to nut their drawers when Hosmer is going for League mvp. the Sporting KC is pretty bad ass as well. I just wish they would have called it Linkin Park to help the band in it's push to be in the rock and roll hall of fame.

lol

Sweet Daddy Hate
08-05-2011, 03:40 PM
Soccer is something you watch at the Mexican restaurant while you're eating chips and salsa, drinking your beer, and waiting for your food to arrive.