Sporting Club announced on Thursday the launch of a new professional soccer team in Kansas City with the formation of the Swope Park Rangers, which will begin play at Swope Soccer Village in the United Soccer League (USL) for the 2016 season.
“It’s a thrill to welcome a new sports team to Kansas City and especially to Swope Soccer Village, a city facility that benefits the entire Kansas City area,” Mayor Sly James said. “Congratulations to Sporting Kansas City for expanding in a way that creates new soccer excitement, adds jobs and will bring fans from across the region.”
“We are excited to welcome Sporting Kansas City and the Swope Park Rangers KC to the USL for the 2016 season,” USL President Jake Edwards said. “Sporting Kansas City is consistently one of the top organizations in MLS and has a fantastic locally-based ownership group that is committed to building the soccer culture throughout the Kansas City region. We expect that commitment to result in a highly successful club, playing in historic Swope Park, which will be embraced by local fans. We are also excited about the rivalry that we expect to develop between the Swope Park Rangers KC and Saint Louis FC, as we continue to grow the USL’s presence in the central U.S.”
The Swope Park Rangers, a name that originated with Sporting Kansas City’s reserve team in 2008 and the first in American professional team sports to feature a municipal park, will join the USL in its sixth season. A partner of Major League Soccer (MLS) since 2013, the USL is one of three domestic professional men’s leagues recognized by U.S. Soccer and one of the largest professional soccer leagues in the world with 30 teams across the United States and Canada, including a total of 11 teams owned/operated by MLS clubs.
“This is a great opportunity to fill in an important piece between the Sporting KC Academy and our senior team as part of the long-term vision for our organization,” said Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager and Technical Director. “We were fortunate to have a mutually beneficial affiliation with OKC Energy FC the past two years. Moving forward, the USL will offer a great level of play and we’re looking forward to building the Swope Park Rangers roster.”
Like Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers will feature a jersey sponsorship from Ivy Funds, who has carried its commitment to the global growth of soccer to the USL and the 25 markets it serves across the U.S.
“We’re pleased to join Sporting Club in supporting the Rangers and the growth of the USL,” said Thomas W. Butch, president and CEO of Ivy Funds Distributor, Inc. “Our partnership with Sporting is built on growth, innovation and reaching a growing audience of soccer fans. Extending our presence to the Rangers and the USL is a perfect reflection of that.”
The Rangers will be closely integrated within Sporting Club’s short-term and long-term strategic goals, providing a pathway to the professional level for players in the Sporting KC Academy and a proving ground for players on loan from Sporting KC. Five players currently on Sporting Kansas City’s roster have featured in the USL while on loan in recent years, highlighted by Dom Dwyer’s record-setting season in 2013 prior to becoming an MLS All-Star a year later.
"Kansas City is a sports town and it is definitely a soccer town with Sporting Kansas City, FC Kansas City and Missouri Comets," said Kathy Nelson, Kansas City Sports Commission President and CEO. "Now with the addition of a United Soccer League team to Sporting KC's family, there is more to offer soccer fans and I couldn't be more excited for Sporting, the fans and Kansas City."
Open tryouts for the Swope Park Rangers will be held at Swope Soccer Village on Nov. 21-22 for prospective players ages 18 and up. The team’s head coach, as well as roster signings, jersey designs and inaugural schedule, will be announced in the coming months.
Home matches will be played on the Championship Field at Swope Soccer Village. The nine-field, $20+ million complex also hosts reigning National Women’s Soccer League champions FC Kansas City and serves as the site of Sporting Kansas City’s training ground in addition to attracting numerous championship events for the NCAA, Big 12 Conference and Missouri State High School Activities Association.
Fans can place $25 deposits to reserve season tickets for the Rangers’ debut in 2016 by calling 888-4KC-GOAL. Additionally, Swope Park Rangers merchandise is available online at Shop.SportingKC.com or at Sporting Style locations inside Sporting Park.