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Current Events: Why 10K meant everything

For the KC Current to set an attendance record in Kansas City for an NWSL game of 10,395 last night, the milestone was incredibly significant.

NWSL: Angel City FC at Kansas City Current Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Blue Crew put into words what we all were thinking, at least for those who supported/covered FC Kansas City from 2013-2017.

In a league where teams like Angel City FC and Portland Thorns FC regularly fill their stadiums, for the KC Current to set an attendance record in Kansas City for an NWSL game of 10,395 last night, the milestone was incredibly significant, giving hope and excitement for the future of the NWSL in KC, especially as it prepares to open its NWSL-specific stadium at the Berkley Riverfront Park in 2024.

When it was announced in December 2020 that Kansas City would have an NWSL team again, there was doubt and worry that the city could support this new team. There was, after all, that final year at Swope Soccer Village with an average attendance of 2,162. The final game on September 29 had an attendance of 1,312. FC Kansas City folded after the 2017 season and was replaced in the league by a new team, Utah Royals FC, owned by Real Salt Lake.

There were bright days for FCKC, however. At its height of success, the team won back-to-back NWSL titles in 2014 and 2015, led by head coach Vlatko Andonovski. Players like Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Holiday, Heather O’Reilly, Jen Buczkowski, Nicole Barnhart, and Amy Rodriguez, to name a few, were key players for the club. The home opener on April 12, 2015, at Children’s Mercy Park drew 8,849 fans, the highest attended NWSL game in the city until last night.

And because of the history of an NWSL team in Kansas City, especially thinking of 2017, last night meant everything to many people. The KC Current is a different team under the ownership group of Angie Long, Chris Long, and Brittany Matthews who, from the beginning, have committed to prioritizing the team - for the players and the city. They have proved their commitment already with a new $18 million training complex that opened in June, the first for an NWSL team, and the new 11,500-capacity stadium that opens for the 2024 season.

For weeks, the Current challenged fans to #ShowUpKC with a goal of 10,000 for its game against Angel City FC to beat the NWSL record for attendance in Kansas City of 8,849, and its franchise-best of 7,954 set on June 4 versus San Diego.

Then fans did indeed show up, bringing an electric atmosphere, as the club tweeted last night when Lo’eau LaBonta converted a penalty kick for the 1-1 draw.

Time will tell if the Current can continue to draw 10K or more at Children’s Mercy Park for the rest of the season. There’s hope that August 19 wasn’t just a one-night milestone, and fans continue to show up for the remaining home games, especially as the Current have become championship contenders with their 11-game unbeaten and talk about midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta as an NWSL MVP candidate has grown.

Regardless of what happens with attendance numbers, this club is special, and we can all tell.