Sporting Kansas City’s 2023 Media Day began at Compass Minerals National Performance Center for Sporting training (Check out pictures and video from @TheBackpost; @SpKCLife; @ThatCodyTho; and @Playfor90.) before moving over to Children’s Mercy Park for a press conference with Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes, a tour of the refurbished UMB Field Club with President and CEO Jake Reid, and open interviews with those two and the entire roster available. Look for resulting articles and podcasts in the coming days. As always, we are thankful for the access the Sporting Kansas City provides on a yearly basis.
The following is taken from a person-to-person talk with Reid and a response from Vermes’ press conference.
From Jake Reid
TBT Question: A regional rival: We haven’t had one (“It’s good to have one,” said Reid). You have seen Austin FC come in and kind of take over Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas. You have seen Los Angeles Football Club come in and usurp Los Angeles Galaxy. You have seen New York City FC come in and vault over Red Bull New York. How important is it to Sporting Kansas City that they remain the dominant club in the region?
Jake Reid: “We want to be one of the dominant clubs in the league, certainly in our backyard. It’s great to have St. Louis in the league. They looked fantastic on TV Saturday night. For them to win their first two out of the gate, particularly going to Austin, is an incredible start. That said, we want to beat them every time we play them. We have such a good track record both on and off the field, and that is important for us to maintain. And I am confident we will. It’s great to have a rival that is a true geographic rival. We are pumped. It’s going to be good.”
Question: There is increasing competition in the league. Some fans feel the highs these days are not as high as the days of 2011-2017. Two of the last four seasons, the team has missed the playoffs. Even when Sporting has made the playoffs, they have lost to lesser seeds. Some fans are worried the team is stagnating, that the team is veering towards mediocrity. What is your response to those fans?
Jake Reid: “I love that our fans have a high standard high because we have as high, if not higher. We don’t start a year without talking about winning trophies and making the playoffs. You can say two of the last four we’ve missed; I would say two of the last 12 we’ve missed. It’s perspective. A couple of those years we got knocked out in the conference final on the way to cups. I can assure you, no one is more disappointed than us for last year – Peter, the ownership, our staff. That is the motivating factor. For us, the bar is that high; we are not happy making the playoffs, we are happy winning trophies. And that will always be the case. I love the perspective; I love the drive; I love the will to want to be the best club in the league. I assure you that is how we view the world as well.”
Jake Reid: “For us, [the atmosphere] is the most important thing [when it comes to support]. If you look at any stadium design – ours or St. Louis’ – that is a central piece of the atmosphere you see out here on Saturdays. In our sport, that is the differentiator for us. We have great relationships with them. We are in regular communication. Ultimately, they are their own entity; we are not governing them or controlling them. Our role is how we provide the best resource for them to be successful, and we view ourselves as a funnel. If we can get people in here and introduced to them, [they] take it from there. The first two games, we are already sold out. We’ve come out of the gate in a good way. We are ready for 2023.”
Question: How did the Sporting U Pass – Sporting’s initiative enabling college students to purchase $15 tickets for the Supporter’s Stand – come about?
Jake Reid: “[It came out of] trying to stay young in that demographic. If you look back to 2011 when we started [at Children’s Mercy Park], a lot of The Cauldron at that time was recent college grads. If we get the right young folks in there coming out of school, disposable income, that is what we want. We want that group to stay young, energetic, engaged. That is the direct result of what you are seeing with the Sporting U Pass.”
From Peter Vermes (Coming soon: The Shades of Blue Soccer Show interview with Vermes focused on various sides of Sporting’s venerable leader.)
TBT Question: You saw St. Louis City’s fans bring it this past weekend. You’ve seen big crowds at Atlanta United and Charlotte FC. Every team across MLS, seemingly, their crowds are bringing it. What is your message to Sporting’s fans for opening weekend and for the season?
Peter Vermes: “We are sold out, over sold, for the game, so I don’t have to tell anybody to go buy tickets. No disrespect to any of those markets, but we have created an environment here. When new teams come into the league, they come and visit this and come and watch games here and tour the stadium. And they take ideas. Flattery is the best compliment. That’s where it is. So, I have the utmost confident in our fans. They come every game, and they bring it all the time and create a great environment. We just need to keep being ourselves and doing what we do. The only time we are in competition with those other teams is when we go to their place. At home, we know who is with us. We know the environment will be fantastic.”