Sporting KC, Cerner must keep promise on youth soccer fields
The Kansas City Star
Kansas and Wyandotte County taxpayers three years ago gave more than $200 million in public funds to Sporting KC and Cerner Corp. to help build a soccer park and office buildings at Village West.
The stadium is open, and the offices are under construction.
But it’s discouraging that Sporting KC and Cerner have so far failed to keep their pledge to privately finance construction of a $35 million youth soccer complex in Wyandotte County Park along with three recreational soccer fields in Kansas City, Kan.
The fields were supposed to be ready for play by the end of 2012; no work has even started.
This is a breach of faith with the county’s residents, especially since Sporting KC officials pumped up the importance of the fields when they were asking for public assistance in early 2010.
Sporting KC officials recently told The Star they were committed to building the youth soccer complex, although it might not be in Wyandotte County Park.
Unified Government officials need to be far more aggressive than they have been so far on this matter. They need to find out how the fields will be financed, where they might go and when they could be completed.
Unfortunately, the failure of recipients of taxpayer funds to make good on all of their promises isn’t confined to Wyandotte County. Other taxpayer-supported projects in the area have come with their own letdowns.
The Power & Light District’s tax increment financing plan transformed a blighted part of downtown Kansas City. The developer projected that taxpayers would not have to pour extra money into the project. But they are, at the burdensome rate of more than $10 million a year.
In Independence, backers of various TIF projects in the bustling eastern part of town have long hoped the projects would help funnel more tax revenue into efforts to improve older western Independence. But that hasn’t happened to the degree expected.
In Kansas, a few cities are just stealing jobs from each other by approving public incentives for economic development. Lenexa grabbed Perceptive Software from Shawnee, while Mission has enticed Wal-Mart to leave Roeland Park.
Back in Wyandotte County, taxpayers stepped forward to help build a beautiful new stadium for Sporting KC and entice Cerner to bring at least 4,000 jobs to Village West. Those were positive moves.
But to make this story a complete success, officials with those businesses need to keep their word and make sure the privately financed youth soccer fields are completed as quickly as possible.