As Sporting Kansas City prepares for a pivotal stretch run of summertime matches, Sporting President & CEO Jake Reid has conducted a Q&A that spans a variety of important topics both on and off the field, ranging From Peter Vermes and the playoff chase to ticket prices, fan-friendly initiatives and more.
What are your thoughts on the season thus far and where Sporting stands in the playoff race?
This club always has aspirations to be a championship contender, and that hasn’t changed. Currently sitting below the playoff line, we acknowledge there is work to be done, but we will also embrace the challenge. Peter is an excellent motivator, and we believe in this group. We look forward to having a full complement of players for the final few months of the year, as well. Winning and the fan experience are always our top two priorities.
Peter Vermes recently coached his 400th match as Sporting’s manager. What does this milestone mean to you?
What a great testament to this club. For those who maybe just see Peter on TV or on the sideline at a game, he is an unbelievable steward for this organization. Yes, he is extremely competitive and always wants to win. But Peter is also fiercely loyal, very intelligent, savvy, has a good sense of humor and loves Kansas City. If he could write up a dream day, it would be coaching at Children’s Mercy Park. We envision him doing exactly that well into the future.
In your role, planning for 2020 has already begun. What can fans look forward to next year?
Our incredible fans are and always will be the lifeblood of this club. With that in mind, we always pay attention to fan feedback. Listening to supporters is a vital part of what we do on a daily basis.
For Season Ticket Members in the South Stand and Members Stand, there will be a decrease in ticket prices. Prices for tickets in all other non-premium areas of the stadium will remain flat and parking will remain free.
On the concessions side, we are working on our biggest refresh since Children’s Mercy Park opened. This includes both premium spaces as well as potential changes to the concessions on the concourse. On Saturday, we launched mobile ordering via the Sporting KC App, which allows fans to place food, beverage and merchandise orders on their phones, skip the lines and enjoy easy pickup at locations throughout the stadium. We are planning big mobile order specials tied to each match, such as the 25% off mobile orders we offered this weekend. Upgrades in the Budweiser Brew House are also in motion.
Several club associates and I just returned from a retreat where we collectively discussed different strategies to enhance every supporter’s experience at Children’s Mercy Park. We are working diligently on this because, at the end of the day, delighting our fans will always be our biggest focus. The intent is to deliver on that promise and improve upon it year over year.
You are a member of the Kansas City 2026 FIFA World Cup Bid Executive Committee. How do you feel about the bid ahead of FIFA’s selection of host cities in late 2020?
This is a massive opportunity for Kansas City to shine on the world stage like never before. The 2026 World Cup bid is about more than soccer—it’s the largest event Kansas City could ever host. The highest-rated Super Bowl had 175 million global viewers. The 2018 World Cup averaged almost 200 million viewers per game and had 1.12 billion viewers for the Final. Imagine Kansas City hosting five or six Super Bowls over a two- or three-week period. This would be a generationally transformative event that elevates Kansas City unlike anything else.
We are excited about our bid’s momentum, especially after Kansas City packed the Power & Light District for the best watch parties on the planet during the Women’s World Cup. The Kansas City market also placed third nationally in Women’s World Cup TV ratings, and the passion this city has for the sport was on display for millions of television viewers to see throughout the tournament.
Kansas City is conveniently located in the heart of the country and boasts world-class facilities for the event. With matches at Arrowhead Stadium, team base camps at Pinnacle and training sites at Children’s Mercy Park, Swope Soccer Village and the University of Kansas Health Systems Training Complex, we feel great about the venues tied to our bid.
As most everyone in this city knows, Kansas City is on the rise. Major developments and investments such as the new airport, the Convention Center hotel, the extension of the KC Streetcar and hosting the 2023 NFL Draft will keep the city on an upward trajectory well into the next decade. That’s not to mention the fact that World Cup host cities can expect up to $620 million in incremental economic activity, tens of thousands of international visitors and more than one billion television viewers.
When will we learn if Kansas City is selected as a host for the 2026 World Cup?
FIFA will select the final 10 American host cities from the 17 candidate host cities currently in contention. We expect a decision by the end of 2020, and FIFA will likely send a delegation to each candidate host city for a formal site visit sometime before then. Kansas City is probably competing with other candidate host cities in the Midwest—Denver, Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati and Nashville.
How can fans and proud Kansas Citians support the #KC2026 cause?
For fans who want to help make this dream a reality, visit KC2026.com. There you can sign the online petition (we have signatures from all 50 states), donate to the cause to help grow the game, and volunteer to support the bid effort at several upcoming events. Supporters can also spread the word on social media and show support for international soccer events in Kansas City. Children’s Mercy Park welcomed an electric crowd for a Gold Cup match between the USA and Panama last month, and FC Bayern will face AC Milan—two of the biggest clubs in the world—on Tuesday in our stadium.
The International Champions Cup (ICC) is coming to Children’s Mercy Park tonight. What are your thoughts on the stadium hosting international matches and other games that don’t involve Sporting?
We are very strategic about the games we try to bring to Children’s Mercy Park. Through our strong partnership with the Kansas City Chiefs organization, we agreed that Children’s Mercy Park would host the ICC match due to renovations at Arrowhead Stadium. This game hits a unique market of FC Bayern and AC Milan fans in the region.
Before the Sporting Club ownership group purchased the Wizards in 2006, this city rarely hosted international soccer matches. Manchester United visited in 2010 and then we opened Children’s Mercy Park in 2011. Since then, we have welcomed the U.S. Men’s National Team six times, the U.S. Women’s National Team four times and hosted seven high-profile international friendlies including the 2013 MLS All-Star Game.
Legalized sports betting is on the horizon. What is your reaction to this?
We are ready to embrace sports betting responsibly as part of the fan experience. The value of legalized gambling will bring fans closer to the sport and help attract a wider audience. The objective here is for professional sports leagues to organize and manage it, help generate tax revenue for the region and use it as a way to increase engagement and add to the fan experience. Maintaining the integrity of the game is the biggest priority for all parties involved in this process.