Proposed Soccer Fields and Wizards' Stadium Complex
Location: 159th and 69 Highway, Overland Park, KS

Updated October 5, 2006

The following questions are answered:

What is being proposed and at what location?

A 300+ acre complex for 24 soccer fields and associated structures, a Wizards' Soccer Stadium, and 45 (this has now risen to 100) acres of retail is being proposed for an area in south Overland Park, KS at the southwest corner of 159th street and 69 Highway. The area is bounded by 159th on the north, 167th on the south, 69 Highway to the east, and Antioch road to the west. In addition, a full interchange would be built for 159th street and 69 Highway, with completion of the 1/2 interchange at 167th/69 Highway. Supporting infrastructure and roads would also be included.

There are really three components to the project: The 24 soccer fields and supporting features, the Kansas City Wizards' Soccer Stadium, and 100 acres of retail. Each has a different overview and funding mechanism.

Is this project in agreement with the Overland Park, KS, Master Plan?

No. This proposed project completly violates the Overland Park Master Plan for this 300 acre tract of land. The current master plan calls for (only) 45 acres of retail which was given a new planning designation of "Mixed Use." Mixed Use can include commercial retail, office and residential. The remaining 265 acres acerage is designated for low-density residential and medium density residential.
Soccer Field Location Maps
Site Plan (Red Outline
Added By NeighborhoodNet)
Zoning - RURJ (Rural)
(Site Plan Outline Added)
Master Plan - Residential/Park
(Site Plan Outline Added)
Click on image to link to official documents of Overland Park and JCPRD

The land on which the soccer fields is to be placed is Master Planned as a combination of Low Density Residential, Medium Density Residential, and Park. None of the land for the proposed soccer fields is Master Planned as Mixed Use. There are 45 acres to the north of the proposed soccer fields where the proposed commercial would be located which is Master Planned as Mixed Use. The exact location of the stadium is unknown, but presumably not on the 45 acres of mixed use set aside for the commercial.

(You can view the present Overland Park Master Plan for this area by looking at sources below.)

This proposal for this area would increase the acres of retail from 45 to 100 acres (commercial, mixed use), 140 acres for the proposed soccer fields, with the remaining acres left for the stadium and stadium parking. The stadium and soccer fields would be placed in areas master planned for residential use. As citizens have noted, what good is a master plan if it can be so easily changed and ignored? But indeed, that would be the case here.

Please give an overview of the soccer fields?

Novemeber Update: Johnson County Park and Recreaton would like to purchase 142 acres at a total cost for land of $16.8 million. This is $118,300 per acre. This land would be used to build 24 lighted tournament-quality soccer fields. The fields would be used over 300 days a years for soccer, with other sports such as rugby or lacrosse also possible. There would be 16 synthetic turf fields and eight grass fields.

Parking is estimated at 75 spots per field or a total of 1,800+ parking. However, the newly revised plan calls for 2,200 parking spaces.

Who would play on the soccer fields?

Eighty percent of the usage will be for Johnson County players for league practice and games. Tournaments held on the fields could bring in 100's of teams from other areas. The Feasibility Study to promote this project (see sources below) states:

The soccer fields "will primarily serve to host major youth and adult soccer tournaments, competitive select-league soccer games, soccer camps and training for the Kansas City Wizards. (Page 87, Feasibility Study, below) Johnson County Park and Recreation has stated that the Wizards will build their own practice field--and will not play on these 24 fields.

Johnson County Park and Recreation has told us that the 80% and 20% numbers being used means that for 20% of the time, fields would be available only for tournament play.

Would the soccer fields have lights or contain a PA (public announcement) system?

Yes. The 24 tournament-quality soccer fields would operate over 300 days a year and have lights and a PA sound system. Johnson County Park and Recreation has stated that lights for individual soccer fields would go out at 10 pm each night. This does not include parking lot and road lighting in the soccer field area--which would be left on. The PA system, according to Johnson County Park and Recreation, would only be used for special announcments. This is a huge gray area and citizen groups looking at this proposal would like to know more details about sound systems for individual or tournament play that would certainly disrupt surrounding neighborhoods.

Who will operate the soccer fields?

Johnson County Park and Recreation maintains that it will operate the fields, however, p 88 of the Feasibility Study states that Heartland Soccer Association, touting its lease agreement with Heritage Park that gives them priority in scheduling their events, has "expressed an interest in reaching an agreement similar to their agreement at Heritage Park, allowing them to lease and maintain the proposed complex." (Update: Dave Lindstrom, Johnson County Commissioner has stated recently that it will be Johnson County Park and Recreation operating the fields--that the Feasibility study is to be disregarded on this statement.)

What is the cost and who pays for the soccer fields?

The cost of the soccer fields would be $75 million dollars which would in the form of a 20-year bond that would have to be approved by Johnson County voters on Nov 7. However, $75 million is not the total cost: If passed, it will cost taxpayers $118 million in principal and interest over 20 years. (Johnson County Park and Rec document.) Johnson County Park and Rec recently verified that cost of the 142 acres (for just land) will be $16.8 million dollars--which equals $118,300 per acre. However, actual documents from the county show that this 142 acres sold in 2005 for only $61,572.42 an acre. Thus, the price for this land has almost doubled in a little over a year and the price seems wildly inflated. Please view the actual document that shows price of land in 2005: Soccer Land Owner Would Nearly Double Money In Less Than 2 Years

Property owners (including home owners) in Johnson County would be asked to pay for the soccer fields if the bond issue is approved on the Nov 7 vote.

Will my taxes go up?

Yes. If the bond issue passes, property owners in Johnson County will see their property taxes go up. Johnson County Park and Recreation District Board of Commissioners would levy an additional .693 mills on property assessment.

Here is the tax formula: Assessed value of property, for example, a home x mill levy = taxes due.

For example, using the Park and Recreation own figures, they calculate, if you own a $238,000 home, you will pay $18.48 annually (or a total of $369.60 over the life of the project) for the soccer fields.

Here are other breakdowns:

$300,000 home = $20.70 a year/ $415 total costs $400,000 home = $27.72 a year/$554.40 total costs

This assumes there is not an increase in the .693 mill levy and this is a calculation only on homes--other property ownership has not been calculated. This also assumes that operating and other costs for the soccer fields will not be further financed by taxpayers.

If the bond issue is approved by voters, will any of the funds go towards financing the Wizards or the Stadium?

Johnson County Park and Recreation says "No" --that statutes dictate that bond monies go exclusively towards the soccer fields. However, neighborhood groups studying this issue are quick to point out that many areas of the youth soccer fields will indeed benefit the Wizards.

  1. For example, adding the soccer fields to the stadium proposal makes it much more likely that the State of Kansas will designate this entire 300 acres as a "major tourism and recreation area" that would then qualify for STAR bond funding. STAR bond funding is the key to building the stadium, the interchanges, and nearby roadways. There is no information yet on how much the Wizards would contribute towards building their stadium.

  2. The soccer fields will have 2,200 parking spaces (or more we're told). These parking spots could be used for overflow Wizards parking. Johnson County Park and Recreation has stated, recently, that they are in talks with the Wizards to figure out reciprocal or fee per car parking if an overflow occurs. Note that the newly released plan of the soccer fields shows an access road to the project.

Please give an overview of the proposed KC Wizards Soccer Stadium.

According to the feasibility study, this proposal calls for a 22,000 seat stadium, expandable to 40,000 seats with, most likely, a built-in concert stage. The stadium would be adjacent to a hotel, parking, and soccer fields with 100 acres of retail shopping adjacent to the stadium. There could be a considerable amount of stadium usage:

The feasibility study states "the proposed stadium could host approximately 35 events per year including Wizard games, concerts, other soccer games and other non-soccer events such as football, lacrosse, motor sports, religious events and other such events." Johnson County Park and Recreation recently told nearby residents, concerned about the impact of this project, not to worry-- the stadium would only be in use a little over 30 weekends a year!

However, p 12, Retail Market Strategy Study, an addendum of the Feasibility Study states:

"It is understood that the soccer stadium would be utilized for soccer games 19 weekends per year, and for tournaments on an additional 64 days per year (18 tournaments)."

Clearly, there will be over 83 usage days at this stadium, this is, on average, more than one per week.

Who would build and pay for the Stadium? Do the Wizards get a subsidized stadium?

Overland Park, KS is proposing to build and own the stadium. It would, most likely, lease the stadium back to the Wizards for their use. STAR bond guidelines issued by the State of KS state: "As a general rule, STAR Bond financing should constitute less than fifty percent of total project costs." However, Overland Park confirmed that these are just guidelines and not requirements. We still do not know the total amount that Wizard owners would contribute to building the stadium.

How would Overland Park pay for the Wizard's Stadium?

The City of Overland Park plans to pay for the stadium by using 20-year STAR bonds to build the stadium and two nearby highway interchanges (a full interchange for 159th/69 Highway, completing the 1/2 interchange at 167th/69 Highway) and surrounding road improvements. Star Bonds stand for "Sales Tax and Revenue Bonds." Star Bonds operate like this: A redevelopment district would be created and any sales taxes (state, county, local) generated by this district would be diverted from normal uses to pay off the STAR bonds. This means that sales taxes for schools, fire, police, etc and other public services would not be gathered for 20 years on this project but would go instead to finance the Star Bonds. Yet, in the meantime, taxpayers would continue to fund services to the 300 acre project itself, such as fire and police services, infrastructure maintenance, etc. Overland Park confirmed that 7% of the present 7.5% sales tax in effect in Overland Park would go to fund this project.

The proposed redevelopment district subject to STAR BONDS, would include the entire 300 acre complex with the soccer fields, stadium and 100-acre retail complex plus the two interchanges and nearby roadways. Overland Park approved the creation of this redevelopment district on September 25, 2006 at a special hearing at Overland Park City Hall.

Overland Park states in its questions and answers at that "private funding sources, including the owners of the Wizards, the landowner, and other private partners, are anticipated for the project." Overland Park has not released detailed funding information at this time. But this is an enormous project and taxpayers need to see full details of financing data.

Are STAR BONDS a sure thing?

No. Overland Park would have to qualify for Star Bonds with the State of Kansas. They plan to do this by designating this redevelopment district (the 300+ acre area) as a major entertainment and tourism area. After this, Overland Park would have to follow: "Guidelines to Star Bond Applicants." in search box, type in Star Bonds.) The final application would have to be approved by the KS Secretary of Commerce.

Have other US cities built heavily subsidized soccer-specific stadiums for their teams?

No. According to the feasiblity study which is promoting this project (page 131) there are 7 comparable soccer-specific stadiums in the United States. No stadium had was fully subsidized by public financing. Here is the breakdown:

Soccer-specific stadium Percent of Public Funding Percent of Private Funding

Crew Stadium,
Columbus OH
0% 100%
The Home Depot Center,
Carson Hills, CA
0% 100%
Pizza Hut Park,
Frisco, TX
68.8% 31.3%
Chicago Fire Stadium,
Bridgeview, IL
0% 100%
MetroStars Stadium,
Harrison, NJ
50% 50%
Colorado Rapids Stadium,
Commerce City, CO
74.8% 25.2%
PaeTec Park, Rochesterr,
63.8% 36.2%

As can be seen, three stadiums were completely financed by the team owners themselves. Would taxpayers here be asked to pick up a large share of the costs? We still don't know the cost participation from the Wizards. Also, note from the many pictures that these stadiums are usually placed in heavy commercial areas, and none of them is place so close to residential neighborhoods as is proposed for the Wizards' Stadium.

Overland Park is quick to point out that STAR bond funds are paid off by sales taxes and revenues collected within the redevelopment district (the 300+ acres). This is true. However, these are sales taxes, diverted for 20 years, in order to pay off the STAR bonds. These are taxes which would normally have been used for public services. At the same time, the 300 acre complex will demand its own services--such as fire, police protection, road upkeep, etc The people of Overland Park will continue paying for upkeep to this area.

Will Overland Park voters have a chance to vote on the stadium funding?

No. This issue will be decided by the Overland Park City council and its members. A simple majority vote of the 12 members will decide the issue. If seven members vote in favor of this, it will be enacted. This is why it is important for all Overland Park residents and surrounding community members to contact council members about this issue. Contact all Overland Park City Council members by using this email:

What about the retail portion of this project, will tax payers pay for this?

No. Public financing is not currently proposed for building the 100 acres of retail stores at this site. However, retail stores and their developers will benefit enormously from the tax-payer subsidized interchanges to be built to the north and south of this complex and all the surrounding infrastructure.

What are the major impacts of this soccer complex project?

All the surrounding area, which is primarily residential or residential related (just as schools, a church, etc) will indeed feel the impact of this project. There will be noise, lights, and major traffic. The feasibility study (p. 98) estimates that there will be 1,356,000 total complex attendance for just the soccer fields and stadium alone.

Taxpayers will be affected, in that property taxes for all of Johnson County will go up for 20 years if the soccer fields are approved by voters; If the stadium is approved by the Overland Park City Coucnil, sales taxes and other revenues from the project will also be diverted for 20 years to pay off STAR BONDS, these are taxes which would otherwise go to fund public services. Yet residents of Overland Park will be expected to provide services (fire, police, etc) to the entire complex

Can major impacts of this project be eliminated for the surrounding communities?

We think not. Overland Park has already posted its noise and light ordinance on its website. However, we believe these ordinances would be almost useless once this stadium is constructed. It would be far better to place the stadium and soccer fields in an area without so much surrounding residential.

Sources of Data for this summary

  1. Feasibility Study for a Proposed Stadium, Sports Complex, and Retail Development presented to Kansas City Sports Commision and Foundation. Sept 29, 2005 This study, done by CSL (Conventions, Sports, and Leisure, International) serves as the basis for promoting this project. The entire 189+ pages report is available here: or at Click near picture of soccer stadium, then click "Proposed Soccer Stadium and Complex."

  2. Overland Park Website: For soccer information, questions & answers: Click on "Resident" tab, a green screen will appear Click on "Hot Topics." Choose "soccer project" for more information on soccer; choose "master plan" to view the 2006 master plan for Overland Park.

  3. Johnson County Park and Recreation Department website: From this site you can view the newly signed $105,000 contract to view preliminary development services for this 300-acre tract and board meeting minutes, etc. Go to: Click on "News & Events" then Public Meetings . . then Previous Meetings . . .then Special Board Meetings.

  4. Newspaper articles from the Kansas City Star:

    • Finn Bullers, "Opinions On Proposal Already At a Fever Pitch,," Sept 10, 2006, Kansas City Star
    • Yael Abouhalkah, "County Must Protect Public in Wizards Deal," Sept 14, 2006, Kansas City Star
    • Opinions Page Editorial Staff, "Question Surround Soccer Plan," August 26, 2006, Kansas City Star
    • Finn Bullers, "Soccer Plan Has Its Critics," Sept 2, 2006, Kansas City Star

  5. Kansas Department of Commerce website: The Secretary of Commerce would ultimately have to approve the application for Star Bonds. Star Bond application guidelines would apply. At this website, in search box, type in star bonds in order to view application guidelines.

  6. Data from "Blue Valley Homowners Against Tax Waste," Joyce Millard, Treasurer. phone 816.200.8364 for more information.

  7. Data from Waye Flaherty, Treasurer, "Homeowners Against Soccer Welfare." Phone 913.831.2140 for more information.

--Compiled by Bob and Shirley Phillips, September, 2006

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