Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Sporting Kansas City
• How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?
With facilities, scouting, coaches and all of the logistics, we have spent around $1 million a year on youth development each of the past five years. With the addition of our new USL team, Swope Park Rangers, this year it will be around $2 million.
• How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?
We have signed six homegrown players: Jon Kempin, Kevin Ellis, Erik Palmer-Brown, Christian Duke, Kyle Miller and Daniel Salloi. The first three all have played and contributed in first team games.
• Who pays to play on your youth teams? And how much do they pay?
There is no cost for our academy players, except a small fee for club membership (which is to pay for SKC tickets). Parents of the U-12’s and U-13’s pay for travel to out of state tournaments.
• How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2015?
We continue to cap our season ticket base at 14,000 (fourth consecutive year) with a growing waiting list. We also have a 94.5% season ticket renewal percentage over the past three years. We have sold out our last 70 matches and will be sold out for every MLS game in 2016 as well.
• Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?
The team trains at the state-of-the art Sporting Kansas City Training Center at Swope Soccer Village, which houses nine fields (four strictly for Sporting Club) and an expanded office/workout complex. We did build this and have done three separate additions, with a total cost at $22 million.
• Do you have a model for integrating your academy with the first team? How closely do your academy teams resemble the way the first team trains and plays?
Of course, they play the same formations, have a crossover of coaches, share the same training complex, etc. Peter Vermes also frequently attends academy training sessions. The model is that everyone who comes into the club has their own, personal jersey number (no duplicates) so it feels like one cohesive unit. At various times academy players are called in to train with the first team and we have brought 2-3 players down to preseason three years in a row.
• What’s your philosophy on the use of technology in your training and preparation for matches?
We are a tech company, so this is in our DNA and we absolutely use it. It is very important to monitor our players, from fatigue to over-training. We also want to make sure that training sessions meet the demand of our model of play. We have a full-time sports scientist and sports performance associate on staff who also travel with the team.
• Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?
Ivy Funds, through 2022.
The sponsorship agreement between Ivy Funds and Sporting Kansas City is a multi-faceted and fully integrated partnership. In addition to serving as the jersey sponsor for Sporting Kansas City and its four youth Academy teams, as well as the Swope Park Rangers, Ivy Funds will continue as the naming rights partner for the Ivy Funds Executive Level at Sporting Park.
• Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season?
We will air 21 games on local television; KMCI (sister station of KSHB-TV, Kansas City’s NBC affiliate). We have 16 games on national television this season.
• Local radio deal: How many of your games this season are broadcast on local radio? In English? In other languages?
All 34 regular season games plus any Open Cup games will be broadcast on local radio in English and Spanish. Sports Radio 810 WHB will also continue as the official radio partner of Sporting Kansas City through the 2016 season. The station–with a listening audience that includes the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma–has carried Sporting Kansas City matches each of the last five seasons.
Since its formation in 1999, Sports Radio 810 WHB has grown to become one of the largest and most listened to sports radio stations in the country. The station first hosted the Kansas City Soccer Show in 2010 and now airs a weekly Sporting KC Show in addition to The Final Whistle postgame show.
All 2016 MLS matches will be broadcast on La Gran D 1340 AM. Owned by the Reyes Media Group, La Gran D 1340 AM has served as the exclusive Spanish radio home of Sporting Kansas City for the past eight seasons.
• How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?
92 associates in our office (seven more than 2015)
• Have you hired any additional technical staff over the past year to reduce doubling-up roles? Are you planning on expanding your technical staff in the near future?
We have hired 11 people on the technical staff over the past year (five of whom are with the USL side, but also work with the other teams); this does not include academy staff. We do not plan on adding any more in the near future. We have contracted domestic scouts as well, which do not count to our technical side.