Local soccer fans like new Wizards home
In the 12 years the Kansas City Wizards played professional soccer at Arrowhead Stadium, Jamison Bloomer didn't attend a single game.
And the Tonganoxie High junior is a big soccer fan. The 45-minute drive to Kansas City, Mo., was usually inconvenient or Bloomer would have a game to play for the Chieftains during the same time the Wizards played.
Starting in 2008, the Wizards will play their next two seasons at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City, Kan. Bloomer said he was much more likely to make the 15-minute drive from Tonganoxie to watch some games.
"I'm thinking about season tickets," Bloomer said. "I think this location is better for the smaller towns."
Bloomer plays midfield/forward and will be one of the Chieftains' most talented players next season. He said the most exciting atmosphere at CommunityAmerica would be if Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham came to town.
"Nothing's going to get in my way if that happens," Bloomer said. "I'm going to that game."
Tonganoxie coach Ken Lott said the nearby location would allow the Chieftains to take more team-building trips to see games. Lott said he hoped the venue could eventually be used for high school games as well.
"I hope we can play some games there," Lott said. "It might also be a nice venue for regionals or state."
The Class 4A state tournament switches sites each year. This year, it was held at the Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka.
It's too early to tell if CommunityAmerica would be a realistic destination for state, but it's a possibility, according to David Cherry, assistant executive director of the Kansas State High School Activities Association. Several factors have to be taken into consideration.
"Sometimes fields get torn up late in the year in November," Cherry said. "That's one of the challenges we always look at. We try to do it so a member school can be a part of the hosting. When schools build a new facility, we'll (also) look into that."
Cherry said poor field conditions late in the season likely wouldn't be an issue at CommunityAmerica because of the Wizards grounds crew.
With the Wizards close to Tonganoxie for two years, Lott said he wanted his players to soak it up while they could.
"I'm hoping it sparks something in them to think about what they're going to do with the game of soccer in the future, whether it's playing, coaching or being a spectator," Lott said.