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  • James Hilchen

Children’s Mercy Park – Sporting KC


Photos by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Children’s Mercy Park 1 Sporting Way Kansas City, KS 66111


Year Opened: 2011

Capacity: 18,467

 

A Home to be Proud Of

Children’s Mercy Park is home to both Sporting KC of Major League Soccer and the Kansas City Current of the National Women’s Soccer League. The stadium opened in 2011 on day that saw Sporting KC and the Chicago Fire play to a 0-0 draw. Over the years, Children’s Mercy Park has won numerous awards. It is also the only venue to host the MLS All-Star Game, the United States Men’s National Team, and the MLS Cup all in the same year. The stadium has also held numerous World Cup qualifiers, Olympic qualifiers, CONCACAF Gold Cups, and international friendlies.


Food & Beverage 4

Children’s Mercy Park is cashless, so plan accordingly.


The park offers up a litany of different food options. I you want to know what’s available and where before heading to the game, the team’s website lists all the concessions available and where they are located. It’s a very handy feature. Further, Sporting KC also has an app that is recommended. Within the app, you can order food/drinks and pick it up thereby cutting down your time in line waiting for the food.


I’d recommend the El Capitan stand. They offer a variety of Mexican food. The Chicken Hatch Chili taquitos are really tasty as are the fish tacos. If Mexican food isn’t your thing, not to worry. Being in Kansas City, there are numerous BBQ options of course including pulled pork, burnt ends, and pulled pork nachos. Additionally, chicken sandwiches, burgers, Dominos Pizza, and vegan Italian sausage are among the many other options. Typical snacks such as popcorn, pretzels, candy, etc are also available.


Coke products are the soda of choice along with Bodyarmor flavors, tea, and Powerade. As for adult beverages, Goose, Corona, Modelo, Bud Light, Kona Big Wave, Michelob Ultra, wine, and a few mixed drinks are options.

Overall, the food and drink options are great, although the portions could be a little bigger for the cost, which is about average of what you would pay in most stadiums.


Atmosphere 4

The stadium was built for soccer so the layout inside is very easy to maneuver and logical. Concession areas are sprinkled throughout along with 32 restrooms. The stadium is bathed in blue and indigo, the colors of Sporting KC.


There are no bad seats in anywhere. Many of the seats in the corners of the stadium are angled so you get a better view of the entire pitch without having to constantly turn your head. Gates open 90 minutes before kickoff. The supporter’s stand is on the north side of the stadium. This is general admission and sitting in this area means you will be amongst the crew that sings and chants for the entirety of the game. The south side stands are also GA and are the cheapest tickets available.


Pregame festivities include a video and fireworks display when introducing the home team. This is when the supporters crew starts their singing/chanting and they don’t stop until games’ end. Once kickoff occurs, it’s all about soccer. With the constant chanting and ebbs and flows of the crowd overall, it’s hard not to enjoy your time watching the game.


Neighborhood 4

Children’s Mercy Park is located just off I-435. The area is a mixture of retail and a few interesting places. Just across State Avenue is the Kansas Speedway. A great NASCAR track, it’s fun to be able to see another great sporting venue. On the property of the racetrack is the Hollywood Casino. Within the casino are three different restaurants, including “Turn 2” which gives you great views of the racetrack.


There are numerous food and drink options within walking distance. Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que is a great option. Other options include LongHorn Steakhouse, El Toro Loco Mexican Bar & Grill, and Granite City Food and Brewery. With the racetrack and casino, there are plenty of lodging options including a Best Western and Hampton Inn which are right across the street from Children’s Mercy Park.


If you’ve never been to Kansas City before, there is plenty to see. Take some time to explore before or after the game and make sure to see the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the World War I museum.


Fans 5

As of this review, Sporting KC is averaging about 18,500 fans per game, which happens to be about what their capacity is. As such, you can expect a full house more often than not. Many fans arrive early and wait for the gates to open. Once kickoff occurs, fans are engaged and other than halftime, there is a constant buzz in the stadium.


Access 4

There is a clear bag policy is effect here.


The stadium is easily accessible, just off I-435. If you don’t feel like battling post-game traffic, public transportation is available and will drop you off right next to the stadium. Once inside, getting around is not an issue. The concourses are plenty wide and the restrooms are sufficient to handle the crowds. Post-game is a little slow getting out of the stadium because you have about 18,000 people heading out all at once. Plenty of ADA seating is also available.


Return on Investment 4

Ticket prices will average $30-$60 depending upon where you choose to sit, which seems about average for MLS. There are a few different parking options. For $20, you can park directly across the street and be out of your car and in the stadium in just a couple minutes. A little further away, you can find free parking. The final option is parking at Hollywood Casino and you can take a shuttle to the stadium. This is the best option if you want to avoid some of the post-game traffic issues that occur at every sporting event. With concession prices being the norm and the great atmosphere of the game, you get an above average return for your dollar.


Extras 3

Be sure to get the Sporting KC app before going to the game. It will save some time on concessions and has other helpful hints and information.


A nice feature here is that important announcements are made in both English and Spanish.


Another point goes to the ushers who are very helpful and polite, whether you simply need directions or assistance carrying food and drinks to your seats.


Final Thoughts

I’d heard good things about Children’s Mercy Park and I wasn’t disappointed with the experience. The stadium is clean and roomy, the atmosphere provides an air of excitement, and the experience is quite enjoyable throughout. It’s not surprising that Sporting KC has won numerous awards for their presentation and stadium…this is a great place to catch a game.


Follow my sports journeys on Twitter and Instagram: @stadiumjwriter


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