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Kansas City to ask for $6 million in state tax credits to build KC Current soccer stadium

 A rendering of the proposed KC Current stadium at Berkley Riverfront Park. It would be the first soccer stadium purpose-built for an NWSL team.
KC Current
A rendering of the proposed KC Current stadium at Berkley Riverfront Park. It would be the first soccer stadium purpose-built for an NWSL team.

Plans for the KC Current women’s soccer stadium at Berkley Riverfront took another step forward last week when the Kansas City Council passed an ordinance authorizing an application to the Missouri Development Finance Board for $6 million in state tax credits.

The 11,500-capacity stadium, which will be the first in the country built for a national women's soccer league team, is projected to cost $117 million and will overlook the Missouri River. The city is not required to make any financial commitment to the project.

In order to qualify for the tax credits, the application must be submitted by a local political subdivision or local governmental body and authorized by a resolution or ordinance.

Third District-at-Large Councilman Brandon Ellington was the sole dissenting vote.

When team owners Angie Long, Chris Long and Brittany Matthews first announced the project in October, they said the project would cost $70 million and they would not seek out tax incentives, emphasizing the project would be privately financed.

But in recent weeks, the projected cost has grown to $117 million, and the owners asked the council to apply for state tax credits on their behalf. They attributed the price increase to higher construction costs and the addition of more seating and more programming. Besides being the home base of the KC Current team, plans call for the stadium to stage events year-round.

“We're putting an extra $41 million of owner's equity into the stadium and we're providing a stadium that has even more public amenities,” Angie Long said at a recent KC Current game.

Fourth District Councilman Eric Bunch sponsored the ordinance.

“It's a great way for the state to help contribute back to the city, Kansas City, Missouri, where a lot of state taxpayers live,” Bunch said. “We've got 500,000 people, many of whom are employees and work in the city and contribute to the state.”

The stadium project is a partnership between the team and Port KC, the government body that owns the land and is responsible for redeveloping the Berkley Riverfront area.

Port KC was established in 1977, with a nine-member board of commissioners appointed by the mayor. The agency has the power to grant tax incentives, borrow money, condemn property and establish taxing districts without the need for council approval.

Port KC president Jon Stephens said KC Current has a lease agreement with Port KC, allowing the agency to reserve certain rights and have a say in how the stadium is used and maintained.

“It is a privately financed facility that is financed by the ownership group and will benefit the city and the region,” Stephens said. “More specifically, we are the landowner, and we worked with them to identify the location that best suits the stadium for the long term development of the city and the benefit of the community.”

Stephens said Port KC supports the request for state tax credits, given how the scope of the project has grown.

He said the lease agreement bars the owners from seeking local tax incentives for the project.

“It was a mutual decision by them that they wanted this to be a facility that was not reliant on local tax incentives,” Stephens said.

Because Port KC owns the land, it doesn’t generate property taxes. But Stephens said the developers would pay an annual fixed assessment as well as sales taxes to fund the extension of the streetcar line to the Berkley Riverfront.

Stephens said the stadium would bring “tangible benefits” to Kansas City.

“They are very committed to the long-term future of Kansas City and the long term future of the KC Current in the community,” he said. “And so, with that, they wanted to really put their flag in the ground and state that we are going to do everything we can to make this project work in a way where we are investing private dollars. And we are able to reinvest in the community.’”

Greg Echlin contributed reporting.

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Celisa Calacal