by Megan Johnson & Kelli Smith
Let’s face it…it’s hard for MLS soccer teams to compete in the U.S. professional sports market. It almost always ranks well below the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and even NASCAR in terms of popularity and merchandising numbers. But what most MLS teams don’t lack in, including our very own Sporting KC, is a passionate fan base.
Over the years we have both frequented a number of local sporting events including the Royals, the Chiefs, both KU and KSTATE athletic events. We’ve watched games in Allen Field House, Bramlage Coliseum, Arrowhead Stadium, and Kauffman Stadium. And, while those are fabulous places to watch games they don’t offer anything close to the raucous environment that invades Livestrong Sporting Park on game day.
Livestrong Sporting Park opened just a year ago and already has a reputation as one of the most difficult places to play in the MLS. According to the Kansas City Star, attendance is averaging a little over 19,000 (there are 18,467 seats in the stadium) for each game. The large attendance numbers plus the fact that the fans are sitting so close to the field creates an intimidating environment for the opponents. But it’s the fans that make the stadium come alive. They show up early, often in costume, waving flags, playing instruments, and always chanting. The Sporting fan club, nicknamed “The Cauldron”, stands the entire game and never stops with the chants. They get the whole stadium involved and create a loud, crazy, fun environment.
The Players for Sporting Kansas City are easy to love. Not only do they look like they enjoy playing together on the field, but they seem to enjoy interacting with the fans off the field. Many have divulged personal stories through interviews and Sporting KC’s website. Fans can also subscribe to the YouTube videos the players create and follow their favorite players on Twitter.
So, let’s summarize why everyone in Northeast Kansas should go to a Sporting KC game:
- The location is great. Livestrong Sporting Park is located at the Legends Outlet Mall in Wyandotte County. Travel time is shorter compared with Arrowhead or Kauffman stadiums. Plus you have many dining and shopping options in just one spot.
- The ticket prices are pretty reasonable. General admission tickets range from $20 to $28 dollars. Parking, although it’s a bit of a walk, is free. The food, like at any stadium is a little pricey. But you can dine at a number of nearby restaurants before the game if you want to save a little money.
- The atmosphere is crazy. The game usually starts with fireworks (after the national anthem) and there’s always a chance you will get to see confetti shot out of a cannon (done after every KC goal). You will probably get distracted by the fans and their antics. Things to look for: wigs, luchador masks, flags, blue body suits and always look for Sporting Darth Vader.
- The game. I’ll admit, like baseball, it can get a little boring at times. But the great thing about KC is that their style of play is an all out attack. That means there are usually numerous shots on goal and plenty of scoring opportunities.
- The community. The owners are committed to providing a fantastic experience for its fans. The owners provide special seating to local children and adults battling cancer, they always honor local veterans and servicemen and women during the national anthem, and support many community youth leagues.
- They are competitive. Sporting has made the post-season in 10 of their 17 seasons in the league. And this year they are hovering around the top of their division.
- And finally…the players. They love the game, love their fans, and are always trying to choreograph their next goal scoring celebration, and we can’t get enough. Go Sporting!
All Images from www.sportingkc.com.