KC Current ‘power’ing up women’s sports


CPKC stadiums impact Image: KC Current (Facebook)

The Kansas City Current, a beacon in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), has seen remarkable evolution, overcoming hurdles and celebrating achievements, including a record-setting farewell game at their previous home – the Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas (US) – before transitioning to their new, state-of-the-art arena – the CPKC Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, which went on stream on March 16th, 2024.

The 2024 Coliseum Summit US will be held at the GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, from June 5th-6th. An ice-breaker event including stadium tour will be held at the CPKC Stadium (June 4th).

‘FOOTBALL BUSINESS JOURNAL’ stated that the essence of the CPKC Stadium transcends its role as a sports venue. As the world’s first stadium explicitly constructed for a women’s professional sports team, this $117 million, privately-funded marvel situated at the Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City, Missouri (US), embodies the growth and potential of women’s sports. It’s a bold statement of the ownership’s dedication to not just advancing women’s soccer but also providing a blueprint for the future of women’s professional sports infrastructure.

The Kansas City Current is an American professional women’s soccer team playing in Kansas City, Missouri (US). It was founded as an expansion team of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2021.

The 11,500-capacity CPKC Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium located in Kansas City, Missouri (US) and serves as the residence of the Kansas City Current of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The stadium opened for the Current’s first home match on March 16th, 2024.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is a professional women’s soccer league at the top of the United States league system. Headquartered in New York City, it is owned by the teams and, until 2020, was under a management contract with the United States Soccer Federation.

Chicago (US)-based the United States Soccer Federation, commonly referred to as U.S. Soccer, is a 501 nonprofit organization and the official governing body of the sport of soccer in the United States.

The 18,467-capacity Children’s Mercy Park is a soccer-specific stadium in Kansas City, Kansas, United States, and is the home pitch for the Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer (MLS). The stadium is located near Kansas Speedway, on the far West side of Wyandotte County, Kansas.

The Berkley Riverfront Park is a park in Kansas City, Missouri that runs along the Missouri River from the City Market to Casino KC and I-29. The park is a scenic oasis with cultural and recreational amenities, including a two-mile trail, picnic tables and period lighting. The park also has parking, bike racks and lockers, and a nearby B-cycle rental station.

The Kansas City Current’s ownership group includes Angie Long, Chris Long, Brittany Mahomes, and Patrick Mahomes.

Chris Long, Co-Owner of the Kansas City Current, founded the Palmer Square Capital Management, an approximately $22 billion asset manager focused on corporate and structured credit with offices in Kansas City and London (UK) in June 2009. Since joining forces with Angie Long and Brittany Mahomes in December 2020, Chris Long has not just aimed to kickstart a professional women’s soccer team but to also elevate it as a gold standard within the sports world.

Patrick Mahomes, the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, joined his wife, Brittany, in the ownership group of the Current in 2022, becoming the first active National Football League (NFL) player to have equity in an NWSL team. Together, they share the vision of establishing the best women’s soccer club in the world and having the Kansas City Current serve as a model for all of women’s sports. Chris’s endeavors have not gone unnoticed, earning him prestigious accolades such as the Kansas City Sports Commission’s 2022 Sports Executive of the Year.

‘FOOTBALL BUSINESS JOURNAL’ further stated that Chris Long said that a couple of things really sparked their (read Chris and wife Angie) interest in the soccer industry – “We attended the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Paris, France, because of my daughter, Mary. She was playing in a series of international friendlies throughout France. And every night, we found ourselves at a different women’s national team game. My wife and I just absolutely fell in love with the game. We saw its global power and observed it from diverse perspectives – from a grandfather’s to a little girl playing in a small neighborhood. We were captivated by what seemed to be a shifting culture towards investing in women’s soccer. Upon returning to the United States, we had a clear vision of bringing a team to Kansas City and knew we had to do it our way. We started analyzing, from a financial perspective, what that meant and the soccer ecosystem we needed to understand. That’s when we realized not only could we succeed with a team in the Kansas City area, but we also needed to own and control our facilities.”

Chris Long further observed that the opening of the CPKC Stadium on March 16th, 2024, is “truly revolutionary! Similar to what happened on the men’s side with the introduction of groundbreaking facilities, the Kansas City Current is setting a new bar. This type of investment in facilities is revolutionary for women’s sports, establishing a precedent when there historically hasn’t been one in women’s sports to look to. We believe it’s going to cause a ripple effect throughout all of global women’s sports, not just soccer. It’s a statement that this is a viable concept, and for those who want to do it right, this is the path to take.”

Chris Long said that they aim to have a significant impact on the world’s women’s football landscape – “Our primary goal is to demonstrate that investing in women’s sports is not just viable but also highly profitable. We aim to serve as a proof of concept with the Kansas City Current as a prime example. Beyond that, our ambition is to be perennial champions, contending every year and establishing ourselves as a global role model in women’s sports. My wife and I are passionate about expanding this platform and investing further across the globe. We’re really excited about the future and the impact we can make.”

He added that there are exciting innovations and features for the fans at the stadium – “The stadium’s design is intimate, the furthest seat is only 94 feet from the touchline, ensuring there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The roof’s curvature is engineered to keep the sound in, enhancing the atmosphere during games. Our suite designs are also unique, with only nine rows below the suites, bringing them closer to the pitch for an unparalleled viewing experience.”

Chris Long informed that sustainability is another key focus for them – “We’re aiming for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, making it one of the few stadiums in the United States to achieve this. We’re committed to minimizing our environmental impact – no plastic water bottles, everything reusable or compostable.”

He asserted that pitch technology is a major investment for them -“We’ve implemented advanced systems for heating and water management to maintain the pitch in top condition, allowing the stadium to host more than just soccer events. Recently, I was in Barcelona and Madrid (Spain), and inspired by those visits, we’ve incorporated various types of seating to cater to everyone’s needs -from lodge seating and standing room to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible seating. Our goal is to make it the most inclusive stadium in the world.”

Talking about their creative marketing strategies, he remarked, “We’ve really gone all out. We’ve used artificial intelligence (AI) to generate an image of a large KC Current scarf on the Kittbaum Bridge, our most iconic bridge. Additionally, we’ve placed billboards in major Cities across the globe, including Canada, Europe and Australia, to promote the first women’s purpose-built stadium. Our efforts extend to social media, where we’ve leveraged videos and influencers to ensure this historic moment is recognized by everyone.”

Chris Long has supported social media posts for many initiatives like the Premier League team Manchester City F.C.’s announcement of building a training facility for their women’s team – “We’re eager to rally around anyone investing in facilities. We’ve engaged in meaningful dialogs with several European women’s football clubs. Many renowned names have expressed interest in expanding their female soccer operations, whether through facilities or academies. We’re open and transparent, keen to collaborate and share information with anyone looking to enhance the sport.”

He observed that with Kansas City being a Host City for the 2026 World Cup to be held in the United States, the KC Current is planning to leverage this opportunity – “Being centrally located for the World Cup positions us uniquely, with the best facilities drawing international attention to Kansas City. Numerous countries are interested in setting up their base camps in our region, providing unparalleled branding and visibility. We plan to maximize every bit of this attention. The entire Midwest is gearing up to showcase our special region, and while the focus is on the men’s World Cup, we anticipate significant benefits for women’s soccer and our community.”

The 2026 FIFA World Cup™, marketed as the FIFA World Cup 26™, will be the 23rd FIFA World Cup™, the quadrennial international men’s soccer championship contested by the national teams of the member-associations of FIFA. The tournament will take place from June 11th to July 19th, 2026 and will be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Talking about Patrick Mahomes, the NFL star from the Kansas City Chiefs, who is one of the Co-Owners of the Kansas City Current, Chris Long said that they have plans for cross-sport initiatives, “Patrick’s involvement brings authenticity and brilliance to our team. We’ve initiated a few special events with the Kansas City Chiefs, such as an event where they kicked soccer balls and our team threw footballs. With the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, expect to see much more cross-collaboration. Patrick’s presence and influence are invaluable as we work towards blending the sports communities and leveraging his star power for mutual benefits.”

New York (US)-based the National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league that consists of 32 teams, divided equally between the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri (US). The Chiefs compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s American Football Conference West division. The 76,416-capacity GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City serves as their home ground.

Talking about the current soccer culture in Kansas City, he stated that the Kansas City, from a cultural perspective, stands out as “perhaps the only City in America boasting world-class training facilities and stadiums for both women’s and men’s teams. This cultural landmark ensures that the young girls and boys grow up with the norm that women have their purposeful place in the City, just as it should be. It’s a powerful message for our community.”

He also mentioned about the KC Current ownership group’s relationship with the Major League Soccer (MLS) men’s team, Sporting Kansas City – “Our relationship with the Sporting Kansas City is incredibly synergistic, a real ‘one plus one equals three’ situation. Initially, we were tenants in their building for two years, which fostered close collaboration, particularly in efforts to bring the World Cup to Kansas City. This partnership continues to deepen as we explore how to maximize the unique opportunity provided by FIFA. It’s a relationship that’s admired by many.”

He averred that the opening of the CPKC Stadium is “just the beginning of even more growth. Angie and I are just scratching the surface of what we can do to impact women’s soccer globally. It’s an exciting journey ahead, and women’s soccer is on a trajectory akin to a rocket ship. We’re thrilled to be part of this movement.”

In what was just an empty field in 2023, the KC Current Co-Owners have managed to accomplish the task of building an outstanding and ready-to-use stadium in record time compared to the other sports clubs.

Chris Long observed that being able to “privately finance the stadium and the training center has been crucial. It allows us to move much quicker and control every aspect of the development and timing. This approach carries its risks, but without taking risks, there’s no reward. We’re firm believers in taking decisive action to achieve our goals. Moreover, it’s important to acknowledge our team’s role in this rapid progress. We have an incredible group of individuals working alongside Angie and me. Their hard work and dedication have been instrumental in getting us to where we are today.”

He said that their next major milestone was “winning the NWSL championship. That’s where our focus lies now”.

Chris Long concluded by sharing his insights on the development of women’s football in the United States – “From an inside perspective, the growth of the youth game is remarkable. There’s increasing investment in youth soccer, which is crucial for the future of the sport. The number of high-quality young girls playing soccer and the investments flowing into the sport, much of it driven by the NWSL, point to a very promising future. I believe the upside for women’s soccer in the United States is enormous. The involvement at the youth level combined with the professional investments represents a synergy that will fuel growth for generations to come. We’re just getting started, and there’s much more to come from KC Current.”

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