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KC Current stadium opening party had it all, Baby!

The KC Current opened their stadium with fun, a few glitches, goals, and history.



Credit: Thad Bell Photography

From the Kansas City Current: Hey! We’re having a party… Invite everyone. 

Yes, a great party starts with the guests. You and a few close friends means fun and a cozy intimacy with probably a few expected surprises. But. A party that welcomes everyone has the potential for an unforgettable, history-making shindig. Even if it gets a bit… dodgy.

The Kansas City Current’s inaugural match at the first major-league sports stadium built specifically for a women’s team was a party with all the right ingredients.

And, like all parties, it began with the arrival of the guests.

KC Current fans Chris and Jennifer

Current fan Jennifer Gall not only brought the party in her attire, but exuded her enthusiasm for all, from the party favors to the setting to the significance:

“[I’m excited about] all of it! The arrival of our team to our home, our new stadium. This is our home. This is a historic day for Kansas City for women’s soccer especially… I’m very excited to be here. I love this team. I love this city. I love my friends. I love the fans. I can’t stop smiling.”

What party host wouldn’t be overjoyed to get that greeting when opening the door?

It’s crucial, that feeling when you walk in the door at any party.

The plaza of CPKC Stadium was bustling with fans, outwardly patient, but inwardly clamoring to breech the gates two hours before the noon kickoff. To say the energy was palpable is an understatement.

“We are so excited; it’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Oak Park High School soccer player Alaina, a versatile midfielder/defender. “It’s the first women’s stadium. It’s really exciting as a female athlete to see representation growing.”

“It feels like a celebration of soccer, of women, and of Kansas City,” said mother, Jessica Thomas just after entering the stadium. “I’m a proud Kansas Citian. It’s just one more thing for which I can celebrate my city.”

As fans took in the fresh air and unique touches of the new digs wonderfully situated between the Kit Bond bridge over the Missouri River and downtown Kansas City, that hoped for party feeling set in, ‘This is cool.’

Three of the all female flight crew who handled the flyover of the opening game. | Credit: Chad Smith

Tech N9ne blasted out his Kansas City anthem. Co-owner Britanny Mahomes and her sidekick Patrick led the crowd in belting out the “KC baby” moniker. Four female pilots commanded a fighter jet flyover after a stirring National Anthem.

All the while, that all-consuming energy swelling up inside each partygoing fan longed to spill out and infuse everyone around, because at a party one wants everyone around them to feel the exuberance they feel.

And they did.

One question remained, however. Would that energy spill out onto the pitch infusing the play with the passion to deliver those magical memorable moments where one’s breath catches in their throat?

Once Debinha struck for goal off an interception and Vanessa DiBernardo hit the rebound into the back on the net, fans released their pent-up emotion in a sustained roar of exultation. It was the moment at the party when one could relax, knowing they would enjoy themselves. “Okay, this is gonna be fun!”

The setting. The unique touches. The fan’s universal spirit. The buzz. And the electric play – a current of another sort – made for moments rarely captured but always remembered.

On the field, the buzz was sustained. The subtle weight of a key pass from DiBernardo setup Bia Zaneratto for goal number three.

A solid, precise strike from a composed 16-year-old Alex Pfeiffer made it 5-1 helped grow the KC Current’s lead to 5-1.

Yet, like all parties, not everything went as planned. And things not as planned came about.

The scoreboard match clock took a while to work. Interviewing National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Commissioner Jessica Berman in the bathroom hall was not ideal. Nor was the exorbitant noise bleed into the postgame press conference room.

And like that awkward guest who knocks over a table full of drinks cascading them onto unsuspecting revelers, the Portland Thorns became, well, insubordinate thorns in the party vibe. By the time the 91st minute came around, the four-goal lead had been rudely trimmed to one at 5-4.

Yet, victory was secured, fulfilling 11,500 who joined the shindig. One was a woman who had begun playing soccer when she was four, on an all-boys side.

“The leaps and bounds the sport has come [through] is really exciting,” said Jen, who played Division II college ball. “My kids’ reality is that this has always existed. For me, it was something that we just kept inching and pushing forward, and now it’s just normal. And it’s awesome.”

Months from the literal groundbreaking of CPKC Stadium had come a greater groundbreaking.

“For decades, there haven’t been any questions asked about the use of public funding and public influence to get a stadium built. That has happened for men’s stadiums and arenas for decades…,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman, pointing out that CPKC was built via private investment.

“It has allowed for those businesses to not only survive but thrive for the long term. None of it has ever been available to women’s teams. That is the wholesale change we will see going forward because we are getting calls, not just from owners around our league, but from city officials. [They are] saying, ‘How can we think about this differently for our community? We recognize now that this is a community asset.’”

Kansas City Current primary owners Angie and Chris Long invested in infrastructure to “control their own destiny” and “maximize their business” according to Berman.

“Kansas City is on the map, not just in this country, but across the world. It hones in on what [the NWSL] describes as our superpower: our independence. Independence from men’s teams and leagues. Independence from a federation. That is our unique value proposition.”

The NWSL is seeing “double-digit growth” and “a ton of new investment.” Those signs point to the Long’s goal be fulfilled.

“[The Longs] want their legacy to be that they won’t be the last. And that’s how they view this investment,” said Berman, adding that the Longs have shared best practices with NWSL owners and city officials who have come to tour both the Current’s training facility and CPKC Stadium. “They want other ownership groups across the league to do what they’ve done. And they have been showing up as a partner for the last two years, and I’m sure they will continue to do that as they continue to innovate.”

Directly across from where Angie Long, surrounded by fans, popped open a champagne bottle in the Pitch Club in celebration after the match is a corridor perpendicular to one a few yards down from where female soccer players enter the playing field.

Emblazoned on the corridor wall is the opening paragraph of Title IX (later renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act for its co-author), which opened up more opportunities for women:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

In a purely accidental shot, I took a photo that tells a fitting story.

As a woman leans on the mural, she represents those leaning on the present happenings for women in sports. A few feet away stand two chairs, chairs waiting for more to take their place at the table.








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