The NWSL team in Kansas City is called the Current, an apt name for a franchise directing the movement of women’s sports and carving a path for professional teams and destinations with their own ambitions.
The proof of that can be found in the team’s recently opened $17 million, privately financed, 17,600-square-foot training center, which has quickly become the envy of the league. And that’s before the team breaks ground in October on what will become the first professional sports stadium in the United States designed specifically for a women’s team — an 11,500-seat venue in Berkley Park along the Missouri River outside of downtown Kansas City.
As he leads a tour of the training venue on a recent weekday, team owner Chris Long — who bought the team with his wife, Angie, and with the support of Brittany Mahomes, wife of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes — is explaining the team’s logo, which itself is a metaphor for what the owners are building literally and figuratively in Kansas City.
Long points to a symbol of a current, which he notes extends beyond the border of the team’s crest, an unusual design element for a soccer crest. “This is meant to show the upward trajectory, the power, going beyond the traditional soccer crest,” he notes.
It’s an appropriate description for a franchise that itself appears to be pushing boundaries on several fronts.
Innovations Inside and Out
The new training center sits on what had been undeveloped land in Riverside, Missouri, in view of downtown Kansas City. When it opened in June, it became the first standalone dedicated training venue in the National Women’s Soccer League, whose other teams use combinations of available space — often in separate locations — to practice, lift weights, review game tapes, eat or recover.
Features in the venue include a fully stocked weight room with KC Current-branded weights, three hydro pools that can provide hot- or cold-water recovery, a massage room, a full kitchen with a full-time chef to cater meals for the team’s 27-player roster, a state-of-the-art locker room, a media room to review game footage and prepare for upcoming games and a coaching center with a wall that itself is a giant whiteboard to mark notes and strategies.
Even the building materials themselves are intentional with cross-laminated timber decking throughout that is more than just carbon efficient. The venue is the first CLT training site in North American sports. “There’s tremendous mental health benefits too,” Long notes as he points to the ceiling of the team’s kitchen. “There’s a difference from looking up at steel beams versus the cabin in the woods.”
And that’s just inside.
Outside, there are three training fields — two with Bermuda grass, one with synthetic turf since two NWSL teams play on turf — to help the Current prepare for opponents regardless of playing surface. In time, the plan is to develop 10 fields on the complex, including space for youth leagues and tournaments.
“We think we could get one and a half million kids and families through here on an annual basis pulling from 15 different states,” said Allison Howard, the team president who joined in May after 10 years with the Los Angeles Lakers in corporate partnerships.
But perhaps more importantly, those fields will expose young players to the type of facility they can aspire to experience if they pursue a professional path. And those seeds are already being planted.
After the Women’s National Team toured the complex in September, Alex Morgan told reporters, “I can’t express how impressed I am with the facility Kansas City has. I look back to the beginning of NWSL and it couldn’t be more different.”
Another recent visit by a national development team left players in tears at the prospect of playing for the Current and being treated like a true professional. “All of them want to play for the Kansas City Current,” Howard said. “That’s what we want. That’s the goal.”
Long noted the investment in the complex is part of the goal to further the growth for female athletes, especially at the highest level. “This is going to be their expectation, that this is what they deserve and what they should have as a professional,” he said. “It’s just continuing to raise the bar.”
And the site’s development won’t stop at the training center. In addition to the fields that will be built for youth soccer, the master plan calls for a mixed-use development with a park, a hotel and restaurants. “We’ve already started talking to developers,” Long said, “so this will look markedly different in the next three years.”
World Cup Ambitions
While the new complex is helping develop the team in Kansas City, it’s also not a stretch to say the venue played a role in the city landing the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Kansas City was selected on June 16 as one of 11 hosts in the United States when the event comes to North America. It was the only U.S. city in the middle of the country to be chosen.
While the 2026 competition is a men’s event, the work being done by the Current did not go unnoticed during the bid process, said Kathy Nelson, president of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC, who noted the bid committee showed FIFA what were then renderings of the training site.
During one meeting with FIFA officials, Nelson said U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, who had been quiet for most of the meeting, caught the attention of FIFA near the end of the gathering. “We get through the meeting and they said, ‘Is there anything else?’ And Cindy gets real quiet and she raised her hand and said, ‘I just want everyone to appreciate that Kansas City is the only city that is doing something like this.’ And she was only talking about the training facility. We couldn’t even tell them yet about the stadium.”
KC Current leadership also sees a valuable opportunity when the world soccer stage comes to Kansas City in 2026. By then, the team’s new stadium will be open as well.
“It an incredible opportunity for us to show off our brand to the world by way of these facilities,” Howard said. “We’ll be able to have this platform to show all that we’re doing for women’s sports and the way in which we feel like we’re raising the bar. It’s a massive opportunity certainly for the community, but for the Kansas City Current as well.”
For Long and his wife, the connection to the World Cup is personal. It was at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Paris that they came away determined to bring a team to Kansas City. The Current were relocated from Salt Lake City, where they played as the Utah Royals FC under different owners.
The Longs spent almost a month at the 2019 event and were convinced in the future of the sport in their home town. “All of a sudden we came back and said we should have a team in Kansas City,” he said. “We started working from that moment.”
New Stadium Next
With the training venue open, work will now shift to the stadium, which will break ground on October 6 and take an estimated 14 months to complete. For now, the team is playing games at Children’s Mercy Park, home to the MLS side Sporting Kansas City. During one 12-game unbeaten streak over the summer, the team was drawing more than 10,000 fans to its games, proving its future 11,500-seat home can accommodate sellout crowds. Indeed, team officials are determining at what point they will cap season ticket sales to allow enough fans to experience games at the new venue, Howard said.
Sponsorship sales for the new stadium are also an easier conversation now that the training center is a real thing.
“From a sponsorship end as we’re looking at the stadium, to be able to show people this, that this is what we’re doing here just for training — imagine what that’s going to be like at the stadium,” Howard said.
With construction about to begin, the team is now focused on the game-day experience.
“There’s something about being on the water along the riverfront,” Long said. “And we have a lot of surprises planned as far as the food and beverage experiences in the stadium.”
For now, the training venue is proving to observers that women’s professional sports can have the same type of support seen by their male counterparts. And the complex remains a talked-about concept around the league, which this year has 12 teams in its 10th season.
“We just had another owner here just recently,” Long said. “I think their goal is to try and replicate it, which is fantastic. Everybody wants tours every time we are hosting a home game. And I think we can see a lot more of this in the next two to three years. People are understanding the power of facilities.”
Nelson said the training complex and the eventual stadium will also help attract other event organizers outside the NWSL who want to see what’s being accomplished.
“We have people calling us saying, ‘Can I come tour?’” she said. “The NCAA has reached out and said we just need to understand what’s happening over there. What can we do to support this?”
Howard said the training center tours are a dynamic part of bringing the owners’ vision to reality. But the complex is part of a larger plan.
“We’re going to be very intentional about sharing our blueprint for success with everybody,” she said. “Because we don’t want this just to be kept to us.”