It’s now official. Really. The Kansas City Wizards, our hometown professional soccer team and a founding member of Major League Soccer, are finally getting a new soccer stadium.
The Unified Government of Wyandotte County (Kan.) gave unanimous approval on Tuesday to development plans for construction of a new 18,000-seat soccer stadium and a new 600,000-square-foot office complex for Kansas-City-based Cerner Corporation, a global supplier of medical software and technology.
This action formally brings to a close the bidding, building proposals and interests of city governments and private developers on both sides of the state line, which have gone on for several years, to provide a new single-purpose stadium facility and a permanent Kansas City home for the Wizards, who will be beginning their 15th MLS season.
The $147-million state-of-the-art soccer facility will be built by Turner Construction on a site across from Nebraska Furniture Mart and The Legends in the Village West district at I-435 and I-70 in western Kansas City, Kan. Construction actually gets under way today with groundbreaking ceremonies. The stadium is expected to be ready for occupancy in time for the Wizards’ 2012 season.
This year marks the 15th year of operation for the
Kansas City Wizards soccer team.
“Our vision will now become a reality,” said Rob Heineman, chief executive officer of OnGoal LLC, the ownership group of the Wizards. “We have designed the first authentic American soccer stadium, with all the modern amenities, that will showcase and help grow the the beautiful game of soccer and build a true home-field advantage for the Wizards.”
In addition to the new stadium for the Wizards and the new Cerner office-expansion project, the $400-million development agreement calls for construction of a world-class tournament field complex with 18-24 fields for youth soccer and other sporting events. The tournament field complex will be located adjacent to the Kansas Speedway and west of the new soccer stadium on State Avenue.
Based on a research study by CSL International, as many as 3,000 new jobs could be created during the construction phase of the new soccer stadium, and an additional 4,000 jobs could be created annually for the operation of the stadium and the youth soccer complex. The study also projected $59.5 million in new tax revenue to be generated for Wyandotte County and an additional $86 million in net new tax revenue for the state of Kansas over a 30-year period. On an annual basis, that calculates to an estimated $3 million in new tax revenue for the county and approximately $4.3 million for the state.
Cliff Illig, Cerner vice-chairman, says his company plans to employ 1,000 people at the new Kansas City, Kan., office complex by the end of 2012, and this number is expected to grow to approximately 4,000 new jobs by the end 0f 2016. The new Cerner offices will be located on a 58-acre site near the Great Wolfe Lodge.
OnGoal is partnering with Lane4 Property Group in the project development. In addition to private financing, additional subsidies will come from $144 million in STAR bonds and $85 million in Kansas state tax credits.
The Wizards played their games at Arrowhead Stadium during the team’s first 12 years of operation (1996-2007). The past three years, Kansas City’s professional soccer team has hosted home games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, which also serves as the home field for the Kansas City T-Bones’ independent minor league baseball team.
The Wizards will continue to play their home games at 10,385-seat CommunityAmerica for the next two years while the new stadium, located just down the street, is being built.
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