Kansas City, Missouri (or Kansas for that matter) is not the first city people think of when they consider coming to the United States. For soccer players from abroad they think of cities like Los Angeles or New York above all else, giving the four clubs that reside in those cities an advantage (I know the New York Red Bulls are technically in New Jersey).
When you look at the Metropolitan Statistical Areas, New York has 20 million plus people, LA is over 13 million and Chicago is at 9.5 million plus. Kansas City comes in all the way down at 30th with about 2.1 million people. That puts KC below all other MSAs that have MLS teams outside of Columbus (which are possibly losing their team) at 33rd, San Jose at 35th, future club Nashville at 36th and Salt Lake City at 48th. That means 29 MSAs, many of which that have no MLS club, are bigger than KC.
Despite what you may have heard, bigger isn’t always better. When Kansas City tries to sell players on coming to the “middle of nowhere” they have a bit of a branding issue. Something like the National Training and Coaching Development Center will help fix that, but that’s just the start.
I personally think Sporting Kansas City can learn something from a city that comes in at 32nd on the list. Cleveland, OH. As someone who has just spent the last week of my life in Cleveland (thus forcing me to potentially miss some preseason action in Arizona, where I live) I wouldn’t say I want to move here. It’s not a bad city, but they, along with one of their biggest employers, is doing some re-branding for Cleveland. Watch this video and tell me that Cleveland doesn’t seem a lot better than what you thought about it before watching it.
Having been here a week, I’ve seen a lot of those landmarks, but the dreary winter put them in a different light.
Now a slick video isn’t enough. Sporting KC are already doing one thing to win people over. Have prior players sell future players on this as a home. Uri Rosell helped do it last year when Ilie Sanchez was considering a move. And this week Mo Johnston, who hasn’t played for Sporting since 2001, helped convince new signing Johnny Russell to make a move to the Midwest.
Kansas City is a pretty cool place. It has great food, great people and it’s not “in the middle of nowhere.” Now if we could only get other countries/announcers/etc. to stop calling the team “Sporting Kansas” maybe people would realize the “City” part of the name isn’t like “Manchester City” but is an actual awesome place. Kansas is synonymous with flat, plain and boring. KC is anything but.
One thing Kansas City does have over Cleveland is at least they don’t have a “marketing video” like the one below.
Update: Despite some (lazy) attempts, I didn’t find any marketing of Kansas City before this went live, but was sent this after the fact and thought I would share.