State Colleges

December 11, 2013

Kansas City, Sporting Park win with NCAA championship selections

Soccer, volleyball and football national championships are coming to the Kansas City area from 2014 to 2018, including the Division I men’s College Cup, soccer’s final four, at Sporting Park in the fall of 2015, and the Division II football championship beginning next December through 2017 at Sporting Park.

Kansas City cast a wide net earlier this year when it started the bidding process for future NCAA championship events.

And it caught nearly everything in sight.

Soccer, volleyball and football national championships are coming to the Kansas City area from 2014-18.

In all, 14 NCAA championships are headed to Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., more than any other city. Louisville, Ky., and Salem, Va., were awarded 13 each.

“This is a great day for Kansas City,” said Kathy Nelson, Kansas City Sports Commission CEO. “After the announcement I was asked, ‘Now what?’ Now, it’s time to get to work.”

The Division I men’s College Cup, soccer’s final four, will be played at Sporting Park in 2015. Kansas City also landed the Division III men’s and women’s soccer semifinals and final in 2014 and 2015 and the same events for Division II in 2016 and 2017 at Swope Soccer Village.

The Division I women’s volleyball championship, also a final four, returns to the Sprint Center in 2017, having played host to the championship in 2010, won by Penn State.

And the Division II football championship will be played at Sporting Park beginning next December through 2017.

Major championships can bring thousands of visitors and millions of dollars in economic impact. The 2010 volleyball championship, held in conjunction with the sport’s national coaches’ convention, filled some 15,000 hotel rooms that weekend. The same two events also will come in 2017.

The NCAA streamlined its bidding process, opening 82 of its 89 championships for the next four academic years, 2014-15 through 2017-18. The NCAA received 1,984 submissions, and 523 sites for all classifications were awarded Wednesday — 294 finals sites and 229 preliminary or regional sites. The NCAA did not award Division I men’s basketball events in this process.

Kansas City, with a history of staging successful NCAA events such as the Division I women’s basketball Final Four in 1998, the Division I wrestling championship in 2003 and the 2010 Division I volleyball championship, pursued several championships.

It made the first cut and was a finalist for four Division I and two Division II and III championships. It got two of the Division I events — volleyball and men’s soccer — missing out on wrestling and women’s soccer.

It landed both Division II and III championships, Division II football and men’s and women’s soccer for both divisions.

The sports commission worked with area universities — Kansas, Missouri, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Rockhurst — along with the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, to shape the bids.

“We were humbled by the quality and quantity of the bids received from the Kansas City Sports Commission,” said Jeff Jarnecke, NCAA director of championships and alliances.

Division II football will be coming to Kansas City after it completes a 26-year-run in Florence, Ala., on Dec. 21.

No American football game has been played at Sporting Park since it opened in 2011, but the facility was designed with the possibility of football being played there.

“There are actually American football goalpost sleeves in the field and play clocks in place, waiting for this,” said David Ficklin, vice president of development at Sporting Club, the parent company for Sporting KC. “We have a great venue and know we can host football.”

The schedule also works favorably. Sporting KC won the MLS Cup last weekend on its home field. The men’s College Cup is scheduled for the second week in December, and the Division II football championship falls on the third Saturday.

There’s also a strong fan base nearby.

“The biggest thing is people in Kansas City care about Division II football,” said Northwest Missouri State coach Adam Dorrel. “Look at how us and Pittsburg State draw at the Fall Classic.”

The Northwest-Pittsburg State game has averaged about 20,000 fans in the 12 years it has been played at Arrowhead Stadium.

The MIAA, headquartered in Kansas City, has estimated some 80,000 alumni of its schools live in the metropolitan area.

Northwest, which plays a national semifinal Saturday in Maryville, Mo., last won the championship in 2009. Pittsburg State won the 2011 title.

“The MIAA has the expertise, commitment and passion to host these championships,” Nelson said.

Next season’s football championship will be played Dec. 20.

Lawrence also landed two NCAA events: a 2015 Division I cross country regional at Rim Rock Farm, and a 2016 Division I outdoor track regional.

Missouri will be the host for four championships awarded Wednesday to St. Louis — the 2015 and 2017 Division I wrestling championships at the Scottrade Center and the 2017 and 2018 women’s gymnastics championships at Chaifetz Arena.

Pittsburg State was awarded the 2016 and 2018 Division II indoor track and field championships for men and women at the PSU Indoor Events Center, Central Missouri will be the host for the NCAA women’s bowling championship in 2015 and 2018 at Tropicana Bowling Lanes in Richmond Heights, Mo., and Missouri Southern will be the host of the 2015 Division II men’s and women’s regional cross country championship at its cross country course in Joplin.

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