The National Soccer Coaches Association of America and the Kansas City Wizards have had preliminary discussions to move some of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum’s exhibits to the Major League Soccer team’s stadium now under construction.
“We have been thinking of maybe not relocating the Hall of Fame in its entirety to Kansas City, but we have been speaking to the Hall of Fame about locating a branch or a wing of the Hall at our facility,” said Greg Cotton, chief operating officer of the Wizards.
“We will have a field-level club in the stadium and thought what a cool place to do a Hall of Fame-type of room to have soccer memorabilia from the history of U.S. soccer around the stadium with some interactive exhibits.”
The National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum, founded in 1979 and housed in its current building since 1999, announced in February that because of declining revenue and poor attendance, it was closing the facility and relocating its collections and archives in several locations around the country.
In fact, representatives of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America retrieved their memorabilia from the Hall of Fame last month and will display it in its headquarters in downtown Kansas City, Kan.
“You look at this stuff, and you grab your heart and say, ‘We’ve got to keep this alive somehow,’ ” said Joe Cummings, president and CEO of the coaches’ association. “There are some people across the spectrum of interested parties that are talking about it … the Wizards, the Sports Commission, the chambers of commerce … all have the same reaction.
“This is something we should be talking about.”
Several factors all seem to be galvanizing in Kansas City’s pursuit at least a portion of the National Soccer Hall of Fame: The grassroots support from the coaches’ association; the timing of the Wizards’ new soccer-specific stadium scheduled to open as soon as 2011 along with 18-24 youth fields for tournaments and competitions in the burgeoning Village West development; and Kansas City being one of 18 cities included in U.S. Soccer’s bid to play host to either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.
Plus, Kansas City is carving a niche as a Hall of Fame destination with the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Royals and Chiefs’ new halls of fame at the renovated Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums.
Cotton envisions staging the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the new Wizards stadium in conjunction with the championship game of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open tournament and a huge youth tourney on the same weekend.
“The opportunity is there,” Cotton said. “It’s a cool idea, it’s a big idea, and it requires a bunch of money, but now’s the time to do it.”