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Nearly Half Of Sporting KC Season Ticket Holders Hail From Johnson County

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Brent Flanders
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Johnson County residents make up the largest group of Sporting KC season ticket holders.

Of all Sporting Kansas City’s season ticket holders, there are eight times more Johnson County residents than Wyandotte County residents — even though Sporting Park sits in Wyandotte County's largest city, Kansas City, Kansas.

In the breakdown of Sporting KC’s season ticket holders, fans with Wyandotte County addresses account for only 4.5 percent, which ranks fourth among the counties in Kansas City’s metropolitan area.

Wyandotte falls slightly below Clay County (4.99 percent) north of the Missouri River, and Johnson County ranks first with 43 percent. Jackson County holds the second highest number of season tickets at 24 percent.

Sporting KC recognizes the disparity and is trying to change it through the development of youth programs.

Andy Barney, who founded the Kansas City Legends soccer club based in Merriam, said some of the best talent in the world outside the U.S. was developed in the inner city.

“In the rest of the world, it’s the great unwashed that play soccer,” said Barney who was born in the UK. “In England there’s a saying that rugby is an animals game played by gentlemen, and soccer is a gentlemen’s game played by animals.”

Everyone agrees that the talent exists in Kansas City, Kansas, even if the turnout for Sporting home games doesn’t compare with the fans from other parts of the area. Cost is one factor. Another key is seeing home talent regularly on the field.

“It’s always the creative ones, the dribblers and goal-scorers, that go the furthest,” said Barney.

The goal now is to nurture that talent in Wyandotte County.

Sporting KC is in the process of cultivating new, urban soccer fans through youth programs. The newly completed Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri has fields that surround the team’s training facility, and tryouts are now underway for five youth soccer organizations that the Major League Soccer team funds.

Sporting KC hopes to spread  youth development to Wyandotte County when the soccer fields, in conjunction with the national team training center, are completed close to Sporting Park. 

“We’ve gone ahead and talked to some of the facilities, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Club where the kids go automatically right from school,” said Betsy Maxfield, Sporting KC’s vice president of soccer projects and supervisor of youth development.

“Chances are they could, instead of taking them to the next spot, they could be dropped off at our facility. You’ve got to work with some of the public transportation.”

Eventually, it might even make a dent in the percentage of Wyandotte County residents who are also Sporting KC season ticket holders.

This look at the line between Wyandotte and Johnson Counties is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Become a source for KCUR as we investigate Johnson and Wyandotte Counties.

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