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Reports: NWSL Returning to Kansas City

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Reports that the Utah Royals will be moving to Kansas City.

2015 NWSL Championship Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Kansas City could soon be home to a women’s professional soccer team once again. After reports last week from the Athletic that Angie and Chris Long were interested in purchasing the Utah Royals franchise from embattled owner Dell Loy Hansen and moving the team back to Kansas City, news broke this evening that the Royals players had been informed that the team was moving back to Kansas City.

Reports are that while the sale is not official yet, an official announcement is expected to come next week.

Kansas City had previously had a team in the National Women’s Soccer League from 2013 to 2017, FC Kansas City. After winning the 2014 and 2015 NWSL championships, the club went through issues with ownership over inappropriate emails and infighting among the original ownership group led by the Likens and Brian Budzinski who together owned the Missouri Comets at the time. There was then a lack of support from Minnesota based Elam Baer who purchased the team from the Likens and Budzinski before the 2017 season.

Where the club will play in Kansas City will be a question, reported last week Sporting Kansas City wasn’t interested in sharing Children’s Mercy Park with Sporting and Sporting KC II both already playing at the facility. A high school stadium, like the Shawnee Mission District Stadium where FCKC started at in 2013 seems unlikely as does a return to Swope Park and the Swope Soccer Village because of the facility not meeting US Soccer requirements for stadiums for a division one women’s league. One possible location is T-Bones Stadium located less than a mile from Children’s Mercy Park. T-Bones Stadium hosted the then Kansas City Wizards for three years from 2008 to 2010 before they moved into their soccer specific stadium. It’s probably not a long term answer for the women’s team, but it would be somewhere that would probably be more professional than a high school stadium.

Attendance wise Kansas City started strong finishing the 2013 second in attendance (4,626) behind only the Portland Thorns (13,320) but fell from there and by 2017 they averaged under 2,000 fans a game at the Swope Soccer Village (1,788) and twice had under 1,000 fans attend games. Hopefully with a renewed ownership and more marketing of the team they can have an attendance turnaround similar to what the Wizards had with the change in ownership from Hunt’s Sports Group to OnGoal LLC.

UPDATE: The reported temporary plan for the NWSL team is for them to play at the T-Bones Stadium where the Wizards played three seasons, and added bleachers to make a the stadium a capacity of 10,385. The highest attended game at then Community America Ballpark was 11,906 for a 2009 game between the Wizards and LA Galaxy.

There also appear to be plans to build a stadium at the old Shlitterbahn site on the other side of I-435 from the Legends complex. That site is being redeveloped by Homefield LLC, which is run by former Sporting CEO and part-owner Robb Heineman.