Sporting Kansas City is proposing to develop a soccer training center in Garden City using the state’s STAR Bond program that would provide facilities necessary to bring the major league soccer club’s youth development system here.
Information about the proposal will be presented during Tuesday’s Garden City Commission meeting as part of a 1:30 p.m. public hearing about creating a STAR Bond district on the city’s east side.
The STAR Bond, if a project is approved to use the tool, would be paid using a portion of the city’s and state’s unobligated sales taxes.
The proposed district covers approximately 312 acres of land from the Tangeman Sports complex northeast to Schulman Crossing, and undeveloped land from the shopping center east to Jennie Barker Road.
Following the hearing, the commission could decide to approve the district. When that happens, a sales tax increment that looks at the previous 12 months of sales tax data in the district would be used to calculate an incremental portion of sales tax revenue generated by businesses in the district that could be used for potential projects.
Until now, a general description of potential developments was vague, but listed at the top was a major multi-sport athletic complex.
According to the information included in the city’s meeting agenda packet, Sporting Kansas City is a potential partner in the project and provided a vision statement describing a project plan which they would work to develop. The size and scope of specific facilities, and a specific location for the proposed facility, has not been determined.
According to a letter to the city from Greg Cotton, the Sporting Club’s chief of staff and general counsel, western Kansas and Garden City have long been a soccer hub in the region, and several players from the region have been brought into Sporting Kansas City’s academy.
“The proposed project would leverage the facilities development and professional soccer development expertise of Sporting to create a community asset for Garden City that would not only put the city on the national soccer map, but would be a great source of pride and entertainment for the entire region of Western Kansas,” Cotton wrote.
The project’s concept includes:
• Design and development of a training center complete with classrooms, locker rooms, fitness and conditioning equipment and likely a dormitory to house players from outside the Garden City area.
• Construction of a to-be-determined number of high performance grass and synthetic soccer fields next to the training center, including a “championship field” stadium with stadium amenities consistent with similarly designed stadiums.
• Acquisition of Premier Development League (PDL) franchise to play their matches at the championship field stadium, which would probably be owned and operated by a local Garden City investor and fully supported by Sporting.
• Creation of a well-organized, professional youth soccer club for boys and girls aged 5 to 18 who will be granted immediate Sporting Academy affiliate status (“Sporting Garden City”).
• Centralized administration of club resources, including finance, legal (including immigration, player contracts, and collegiate eligibility issues), and travel.
PDL is a proven leader in soccer development, according to Cotton. In his letter, Cotton anticipates the Garden City PDL franchise would feature top amateur players from Sporting Garden City as well as the Garden City Community College men’s soccer program, and could feature 10 to 12 home matches annually.
Sporting Kansas City established an academy in 2007 to identify, train and develop soccer players. It built a facility featuring three fields and 7,500-square-foot training center that was recently expanded into Swope Park Soccer Village, featuring nine, full-sized soccer fields, and a 4,000-square-foot locker room and classroom extension.
It now has 13 affiliate youth soccer clubs throughout the Midwest. Top players from each affiliate are annually invited to try out for the Sporting Academy in Kansas City.
According to the proposal description, Sporting Garden City would be created by merging two or more youth soccer clubs in Garden City, and would feature recreational and competitive divisions with professional coaches on the competitive side. Top competitive teams could compete in local, regional or even national leagues and tournaments.
“Sporting believes this facility will be a natural tournament destination for clubs from Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico. At full programming, it is envisioned that the facilities could host a dozen or more targeted showcase tournaments on an annual basis,” Cotton wrote.
The Garden City Commission will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the City Administrative Center, 301 N. Eighth St.
Items on the agenda include a 1:30 p.m. public hearing on the creation of a STAR Bond district. After the hearing, the commission will consider adopting an ordinance to create the district; Mike Muirhead, public utilities director, will provide an update on the city’s power supply and utility financials; an annexation agreement for property along U.S. 50/400; resolution regarding the need for a housing incentive policy; a resolution creating the electrical systems operating capital reserve account to maintain funds for operation and maintenance of the Jameson Energy Center or for capital outlays required by emergency situations involving transmission, distribution or substations; annual transfers; a 2 p.m. public hearing relating to amending the 2014 budget for several funds; a staff report on building code issues requested before the city seeks new proposals for use of the State Theater; and consideration of a continuing disclosure policy for issuances of debt.
A pre-meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday in the large meeting room at the administrative center to discuss a fire facilities study. The pre-meeting is also open to the public.