Thursday, August 31, 2006

KC's new owners say soccer will be number one sport in US by 2020

After two years on the market, the Kansas City Wizards have been sold. The new six-man ownership group is led by Cerner Corp. co-founders Neal Patterson (top photo) and Cliff Illig (bottom photo). The other group members are Rock Island Capital’s Robb Heineman, Greg Maday and David French, and Pat Curran, founder of C3 Holdings.

As of this day, Lamar Hunt only owns two MLS clubs (Columbus Crew and FC Dallas).

The new ownership plans on keeping the team in the Kansas City area. They hope to have a stadium built and open by April 2009.

During the press conference the question came up of where the team will play the 2007-08 seasons. Patterson responded that they will play in "a retro-fitted stadium in Johnson County." By retrofitted, I'm guessing this means a football or baseball stadium that has been turned into a soccer pitch.

As interesting as the answer was, his reason behind getting into soccer was much more fascinating. During his presentation he said that they see this as a chance to "keep soccer in Kansas City and helping make soccer in the United Sates the top professional sport in the year 2020."


He did later say that he thinks soccer will be the number one sport in 2020, but it might be number two. Those are big words and I'm glad he said them, but a lot will have to change in the MLS to make that anywhere near a reality.

If Patterson was being serious and not just trying to get headlines, he will need to push the league to make major changes to its rules and system. The good news is the more owners there are in the league, the greater the chance of such changes taking place.

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