Northland youth soccer complex will come with $36 million price tag, if approved by City Council

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Photo by Baylee Gramling

The Kansas City Council will be voting this Wednesday on approving a $36 million Northland youth soccer complex. It would be located on the northwest corner of Platte Purchase Drive and Missouri Highway 152.

The project was approved by the council in April, then the plan’s budget was reduced from $43 million to $36 million, and from 12 soccer fields to 10. The Kansas City Parks Department is no longer part of the funding blueprint due to concerns about support for other projects.

Sporting KC would build and operate the facility through a subsidiary with the motivation to build the city’s interest in soccer.

“There’s a huge need in the Northland for sports complexes,” says Jake Reid, Sporting KC’s president and CEO.

Money for the complex would come from taxpayers, an expiring economic development incentive, and a public sales fund, with most of the upfront design and construction funds coming from taxpayers.

Those in favor of building the Northland youth soccer complex, including Councilperson Dan Fowler, say it could inspire further developments in the area. Fowler says the new park would alleviate crowded soccer complexes and would be good for Kansas City’s youth.

People such as Jason Hubbard would not have to drive 40 minutes to a soccer complex. In March, Hubbard, his wife, and two sons would leave their house at 6:40 a.m. to drive to the Scheels Overland Park Soccer Complex in southern Johnson County according to KCUR.

“It’d be nice if it wasn’t an hour and a half round trip car ride,” says Hubbard.

However, Chris Goode, owner of Ruby Jeans Juicery, is against the complex. He says the $36 million would be spent on luxury and convenience instead of what the city actually needs.

Goode claims the money could be put towards helping local businesses or ensuring those without shelter would not freeze to death, like Scott Eicke. Goode says we need to be getting people to a fair and equitable baseline. The city could also put the money towards issues such as mental health care, roads, and upgrading current city parks.

Several council members are also concerned due to budget uncertainty. Half of the city’s $100 million cash reserve has been spent to fill the budget gap caused by COVID-19 according to the Kansas City Star.

City staffers predicted a “light recession” would force Kansas City to cut $155 million from its budget over the next five years in a memo to city council members in March.

“To call a pandemic, which has the highest unemployment numbers since the Great Depression, a hiccup-gosh, I hope it’s a hiccup,” says Councilperson Katheryn Shields, 4th District at-large, “but I think that is beyond wishful thinking to believe that is what we are facing.”

There is currently a petition against the project. Goode says if Sporting KC is wanting to make this happen they should pay for the whole thing, especially since it may not be accessible to everyone.

Youth sports outside of publicly funded sports through the public education system can be very expensive. Costs for lessons, uniforms, membership, or travel can add up quickly. A parent who has lost their job due to COVID-19 may need to spend their paycheck on essentials instead of youth soccer for their child.

Categories: Politics