Last night was opening night at Livestrong Sporting Park. And I have to say, the new stadium is absolutely amazing (and was designed by local sports architect firm Populous).
The stadium is fairly small (holds about 18,500 for soccer) and the seats are right up on the sidelines on all sides -- making the stadium feel loud and vibrant. Honestly, last night was the best sporting atmosphere I've been in in this town in a long time.
Livestrong Park is yet another notch in the belt for the Kansas City area -- which now boasts an array of best-in-class sports stadiums. Arrowhead and the K have both undergone major renovations that make them among the leading venues in their respective sports. Sprint Center is a great arena for hockey, basketball and concerts -- and even without an anchor tenent is a very busy venue. The Kansas Speedway continues to get rave reviews from NASCAR fans and drivers alike. But Livestrong is undeniably the best venue of all of them (and I am, admittedly, only a casual soccer fan).
These sporting venues -- along with a world class performing arts center that will open later this year, the Nelson Atkins (which rivals the art galleries in almost any North American city) we have some pretty amazing showcases in this town -- which we should all be pretty proud of.
One thing that could really benefit all of these venues is better public transit that would allow easier, traffic-free access to these venues so people can enjoy the games and then get back to the central part of the city.
I was one that was skeptical that a major soccer league would succeed in this country 15 years ago when MLS started....but with the creation of significant, soccer-only stadiums like Livestrong it sure seems like it is over the hump and here to stay. And I think the atmosphere in the stadium will only continue to create more soccer fans (I was at the game with one person who had never watched a soccer match before and is now a huge fan of the sport after just one night).