Sporting Kansas City’s St. Patty’s Day home opener is a mere 90-ish days away, folks...
Recently, SKC announced several other events that will be coming to LIVESTRONG in 2012. Most notably is the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will be in KC for the semifinals on March 31st, and the final on April 2nd.
Not a bad little grab for KC.
Also, the Big 12 inked a deal to hold their annual women’s soccer conference tournament at LIVESTRONG for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Since opening the doors to the public in June, it’s been non-stop for the new stadium. Until recently, that is.
In its first five months, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park endured a full MLS season, a round of playoffs, men’s and women’s national team games, and several concerts including the 2011 edition of Farm Aid.
Though there certainly were kinks at times, most everyone who had the chance to visit Sporting KC’s crown jewel were in agreement that the stadium represented a step in the absolute right direction, both for the MLS, and for use as a multi-purpose venue.
The “fan experience” at LIVESTRONG – arguably the most important aspect of Sporting’s business model – was almost across the board positive. Sight lines inside the stadium are great no matter where you are seated, or standing for that matter. The atmosphere of the Cauldron singing and chanting all game brought energy not seen at most other MLS venues.
Parking was easy and plentiful, with little to no wait time usually (and it’s not $27, it’s free). Same with getting in and out of the stadium. I am a last-minute type guy when it comes to getting to my seat, sometimes waiting until a minute or two before kick off to embark on the journey inside, and I must say it was pretty painless almost every game.
Once inside, restrooms were clean, and wait time minimal. A wide variety of food options were available, from traditional ball park fare, to barbecue, pizza, fish and chips, Mexican, and more.
Now what about those kinks?
There’s really only one, and it’s kind of a big deal, the pitch or field for those of you easily confused.
If you saw a Sporting game in the latter part of the season, you couldn’t help but notice huge chunks of turf ripping up whenever a player tried to plant or cut hard. In what was one of the biggest games of the year at LIVESTRONG- the LA Galaxy game that featured David Beckham and Landon Donovan– the pitch was god awful.
Afterwards, Donovan praised the stadium itself but called the turf embarrassing and unsafe. Beckham didn’t go quite as far, but he noted the crappy field conditions as well.
The question is, why did this happen, was it preventable, and will it happen again?
Sporting top dog Robb Heineman has talked about these questions a lot, and here’s my understanding of Robb’s explanations:
Why did it happen? To paraphrase, the roots didn’t grow in enough. And the field was overused due to SKC’s back-loaded schedule.
Was it preventable? This is the one that gets me. Heineman was asked on Twitter, “So, basically, we just have overused pitch syndrome? That and ‘KC is too damn hot during July/August’?” His response: “We’re not gonna make excuses.”
That sure sounds preventable to me.
I mean, they knew what they were getting in to, right? They saw the schedule, booked the events. Especially when Heineman followed that comment up with, “No team will ever experience what we have this summer. There’s no comparison for usage, etc. We never will again.”
I take Heineman at his word on this one.
And I agree that the field should not have the same issues for the 2012 season, mostly because the games will be spread out over an additional three months, and the roots will have had time to properly grow in. If the same issues somehow do persist, well, then I would expect heads to roll at the Legends.
So assuming the grass is proper next season, as it should be, what can we gripe about then? Nine dollar beers?
Done and done.