It is likely two of the biggest projects that Alicia Stephens has backed in recent years could have groundbreaking ceremonies in the same calendar year.
The executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council, Stephens was a long-time proponent of a new single-terminal set up at Kansas City International Airport and getting a soccer complex in the Northland.
Earlier this year, ground was officially broken at the new KCI and perhaps by this fall, dirt will be moved for a new 12-field soccer complex near Highway 152 and N. Platte Purchase Drive in Kansas City.
Stephens announced her retirement from that job the same week the city council in Kansas City started pushing forward plans to get funding options for the project which will cost an estimated $42 million. A request for information and qualifications — a RFIQ — will proceed a request for qualifications and proposals.
Council members Dan Fowler and Teresa Loar, both who represent Platte County in the 2nd district, were also key figures in getting this passed through committee and then the council late last month.
Funding for the project will come from the KCI Corridor TIF, second district in-district capital improvement sales tax, capital improvement sales and park sales tax from expiring TIFs North of the River according to documents provided.
Stephens noted one of them will be the Platte Purchase TIF.
“We had been working on it going back many years, but the last four years a lot of work has went into this,” Stephens said. “The devil is in the details. We found funding from four different sources.”
Both Loar and Fowler, along with Stephens, are optimistic that the project will have dirt moved by the fall.
“What this means is people don’t have to go to 135th and nowhere to play soccer with third graders at 9 a.m. or 10 p.m at night,” Fowler said in jest about what this project means to Platte County residents.
With soccer a growing sport in the area and not an abundance of fields, this project will help turn the Northland into a spot for games and tournaments.
The proposed location site was one of seven that had been looked at, before ultimately deciding on a place just inside the Platte County line and across the street is Clay County.
Loar noted the city got a good deal on land in the area, while Fowler said the city will work with the Platte County R-3 School District on a land trade before plans are finalized to swap locations.
The area the city bought is north of the 80 acres the school district owns at 152/N. Platte Purchase, land that would be used for a possible new high school decades in the future with continued growth.
“The city has nowhere to go and the Northland has open space and with the airport coming, it is nice to see the Northland grow and prosper,” said Loar.
Stephens said the idea for a soccer complex started about six years ago. The PCEDC worked in analysis of the six other locations and helped secure major funding for the project, though that hasn’t been revealed what/who is backing this project.
“We will be 12 soccer fields with multiple use, for football and lacrosse and two of the fields are championship quality with a community center there as well with other amenities,” said Fowler, who won a second term on the council last month. “The idea is to do commercial development on the edges of the park.”
That could be a hotel or a restaurant or even a medical facility/urgent care facility. It is too early in the project to know what will be there, but Fowler noted those are a few ideas that were discussed prior to the passage of the project.
Fowler, who said he tends to be on the optimistic side, said the project could be done by the fall of 2021 but noted construction could run into early 2022.
Loar noted the plan is to have a design-build-maintain project.
“It is a big deal,” Loar said. “It is great for not only the city, but for us in the Northland. It is great to see it finally come to fruition. This was just a dream five years ago. There was a lot of work done and the Platte County Economic Development did a great job of working on it. This will be an economic booster to the Northland.”
Stephens will stay on as the special project coordinator to oversee the completion of the soccer complex.
She hopes the two championship-style fields will be used by big time events, such as NCAA finals or possible even serve as a practice site for teams during the World Cup in 2026.
The direct impact of the complex will be $14.1 annually, according to the PCEDC.