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Chris Long, Co-owner of KC Current, Unveils CPKC Stadium's Global Impact on Women's Soccer.

Roger Hampel

Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium
Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium

KC Current's Owners Christopher Long, Angie Long and Brittany Mahomes. FOT: KC Current via LinkedIn

In my conversation with Chris Long, co-owner of the Kansas City Current, we delve into an inspiring chapter of sports innovation on the cusp of a landmark event. This Saturday marks the inaugural game at CPKC Stadium, a pioneering venture into the future of women’s sports, championed by Chris Long and his fellow visionaries, Angie Long, Brittany Mahomes, and NFL star Patrick Mahomes. The Kansas City Current, a beacon in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), has seen remarkable evolution, overcoming hurdles and celebrating achievements, including a record-setting farewell game at Children's Mercy Park before transitioning to their new, state-of-the-art arena.

The essence of CPKC Stadium transcends its role as a sports venue. As the world’s first stadium explicitly constructed for a women's professional sports team, this $117 million, privately funded marvel situated at Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City, Missouri, embodies the growth and potential of women's sports. It’s a bold statement of the ownership’s dedication to not just advancing women’s soccer but also providing a blueprint for the future of women's professional sports infrastructure.

Chris Long founded Palmer Square Capital Management, an approximately $22 billion asset manager focused on corporate and structured credit with offices in Kansas City and London, in June 2009. Since joining forces with Angie Long and Brittany Mahomes in December 2020, Chris has not just aimed to kickstart a professional women's soccer team but to also elevate it as a gold standard within the sports world. Patrick Mahomes, the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, joined his wife, Brittany, in the ownership group of the Current in 2022, becoming the first active NFL player to have equity in an NWSL team. Together, they share the vision of establishing the best women’s soccer club in the world and having the Kansas City Current serve as a model for all of women’s sports. Chris’s endeavors have not gone unnoticed, earning him prestigious accolades such as the Kansas City Sports Commission’s 2022 Sports Executive of the Year and recognition among Sports Business Journal’s 2022 Power Players in Women’s Sports.

As we anticipate the thrill of the first match at CPKC Stadium, our discussion with Chris Long offers invaluable insights into the dedication behind the Kansas City Current, the groundbreaking significance of CPKC Stadium, and the enduring vision to redefine women’s sports on a global scale.

Roger Hampel (Founder, Football Business Journal): Chris, with such an impressive business career, what led you to the soccer industry?


Chris Long (Co-owner, KC Current): Well, a couple of things really sparked our interest. We attended the 2019 Women's World Cup in Paris, France, because of my daughter, Mary. She was playing in a series of international friendlies throughout France. And every night, we found ourselves at a different women's national team game. My wife and I just absolutely fell in love with the game. We saw its global power and observed it from diverse perspectives – from a grandfather's to a little girl's playing in a small neighborhood. We were captivated by what seemed to be a shifting culture towards investing in women's soccer. Upon returning to the United States, we had a clear vision of bringing a team to Kansas City and knew we had to do it our way. We started analyzing, from a financial perspective, what that meant and the soccer ecosystem we needed to understand. That’s when we realized not only could we succeed with a team in the Kansas City area, but we also needed to own and control our facilities.


Roger Hampel: The CPKC Stadium is opening this weekend and will be the first stadium in the world built for a women's football team. Are we talking about a historic moment for world football?


Chris Long: This is truly revolutionary! Similar to what happened on the men’s side with the introduction of groundbreaking facilities, the Kansas City Current is setting a new bar. This type of investment in facilities is revolutionary for women’s sports, establishing a precedent when there historically hasn’t been one in women's sports to look to. We believe it's going to cause a ripple effect throughout all of global women's sports, not just soccer. It's a statement that this is a viable concept, and for those who want to do it right, this is the path to take.

Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium
Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium

FOT: KC Current via LinkedIn

Roger Hampel: Moving forward, what's your mission and vision regarding KC Current and the CPKC Stadium? It seems like you aim to have a significant impact on the world's women's football landscape, right?


Chris Long: Absolutely. Our primary goal is to demonstrate that investing in women's sports is not just viable but also highly profitable. We aim to serve as a proof of concept with the Kansas City Current as a prime example. Beyond that, our ambition is to be perennial champions, contending every year and establishing ourselves as a global role model in women’s sports. My wife and I are passionate about expanding this platform and investing further across the globe. We’re really excited about the future and the impact we can make.

Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium
Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium

Chris Long during the construction of the stadium. PHOTO: KC Current via YouTube

Roger Hampel: And what are some of the exciting innovations and features for fans at the stadium?


Chris Long: I’m so glad you asked that question. The stadium's design is intimate; the furthest seat is only 94 feet from the touchline, ensuring there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The roof’s curvature is engineered to keep the sound in, enhancing the atmosphere during games. Our suite designs are also unique, with only nine rows below the suites, bringing them closer to the pitch for an unparalleled viewing experience.


Sustainability is another key focus for us. We’re aiming for LEED Gold certification, making it one of the few stadiums in the United States to achieve this. We’re committed to minimizing our environmental impact—no plastic water bottles, everything reusable or compostable.


Pitch technology is a major investment for us. We’ve implemented advanced systems for heating and water management to maintain the pitch in top condition, allowing the stadium to host more than just soccer events.


Last week, I was in Barcelona and Madrid, and inspired by those visits, we've incorporated various types of seating to cater to everyone’s needs—from lodge seating and standing room to ADA accessible seating. Our goal is to make it the most inclusive stadium in the world.


Roger Hampel: What marketing initiatives have you undertaken to promote the new stadium? I noticed your flag flying on top of City Hall in Kansas. Can you share more about your creative marketing strategies? Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium


Chris Long: We've really gone all out. We’ve used AI to generate an image of a large KC Current scarf on the Kittbaum Bridge, our most iconic bridge. Additionally, we’ve placed billboards in major cities across the globe, including Canada, Europe, and Australia, to promote the first women's purpose-built stadium. Our efforts extend to social media, where we’ve leveraged videos and influencers to ensure this historic moment is recognized by everyone.

Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium
Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium

FOT: KC Current via Instagram

Roger Hampel: I saw your support social media posts for many initiatives like Manchester City’s announcement of building a training facility for their women’s team. What’s your relationship with European women’s football clubs?


Chris Long: We’re eager to rally around anyone investing in facilities. We've engaged in meaningful dialogues with several European women's football clubs. Many renowned names have expressed interest in expanding their female soccer operations, whether through facilities or academies. We’re open and transparent, keen to collaborate and share information with anyone looking to enhance the sport.

Roger Hampel: With Kansas City being a host city for the next World Cup in the United States, how is KC Current planning to leverage this opportunity?


Chris Long: Being centrally located for the World Cup positions us uniquely, with the best facilities drawing international attention to Kansas City. Numerous countries are interested in setting up their base camps in our region, providing unparalleled branding and visibility. We plan to maximize every bit of this attention. The entire Midwest is gearing up to showcase our special region, and while the focus is on the men’s World Cup, we anticipate significant benefits for women's soccer and our community.

Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium
Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium

FOT: KC Current via Instagram

Roger Hampel: How do you leverage the fact that one of the co-owners is Patrick Mahomes, the NFL star from the Kansas City Chiefs? Are there plans for cross-sport initiatives?


Chris Long: Absolutely, Patrick’s involvement brings authenticity and brilliance to our team. We've initiated a few special events with the Kansas City Chiefs, such as an event where they kicked soccer balls and our team threw footballs. With the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, expect to see much more cross-collaboration. Patrick’s presence and influence are invaluable as we work towards blending the sports communities and leveraging his star power for mutual benefits.

Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium
Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium

FOT: KC Current via Instagram

Roger Hampel: Can you describe the current soccer culture in Kansas City and your relationship with the MLS men's team, Sporting Kansas City?


Chris Long: Kansas City, from a cultural perspective, stands out as perhaps the only city in America boasting world-class training facilities and stadiums for both women's and men's teams. This cultural landmark ensures that young girls and boys grow up with the norm that women have their purposeful place in the city, just as it should be. It's a powerful message for our community.


Our relationship with Sporting Kansas City is incredibly synergistic, a real 'one plus one equals three' situation. Initially, we were tenants in their building for two years, which fostered close collaboration, particularly in efforts to bring the World Cup to Kansas City. This partnership continues to deepen as we explore how to maximize the unique opportunity provided by FIFA. It’s a relationship that’s admired by many.


Roger Hampel: With the opening of CBKC Stadium this weekend, it seems like this is just the beginning of even more growth, right?


Chris Long: Absolutely, the trend is definitely our friend. Angie and I are just scratching the surface of what we can do to impact women's soccer globally. It's an exciting journey ahead, and women's soccer is on a trajectory akin to a rocket ship. We're thrilled to be part of this movement.


Roger Hampel: It was only 124 days after the franchise was announced when you played your first game, and now, there's an outstanding and ready-to-use stadium where there used to be just an empty field in 2023. How have you managed to accomplish so much so quickly, compared to other sports clubs?


Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium
Chris Long KC Current CPKC Stadium

FOT: KC Current via Instagram

Chris Long: Thank you for the compliment. Being able to privately finance the stadium and training center has been crucial. It allows us to move much quicker and control every aspect of the development and timing. This approach carries its risks, but without taking risks, there's no reward. We're firm believers in taking decisive action to achieve our goals.


Moreover, it’s important to acknowledge our team's role in this rapid progress. We have an incredible group of individuals working alongside Angie and me. Their hard work and dedication have been instrumental in getting us to where we are today.


Roger Hampel: As we look to the future, what’s your next major milestone? You’ve announced the franchise, played the first game, and now opened the new stadium. What comes next?


Chris Long: Winning the NWSL championship is our next big goal. That’s where our focus lies now.


Roger Hampel: With the future in mind, could you share your insights on the development of women's football in the United States?


Chris Long: From an inside perspective, the growth of the youth game is remarkable. There's increasing investment in youth soccer, which is crucial for the future of the sport. The number of high-quality young girls playing soccer and the investments flowing into the sport, much of it driven by the NWSL, point to a very promising future. I believe the upside for women's soccer in the United States is enormous. The involvement at the youth level combined with professional investments represents a synergy that will fuel growth for generations to come.


Roger Hampel: Thank you, Chris, for your insights and time today. Your vision and work with KC Current are truly inspiring, and we wish you the best in achieving all your goals, especially that NWSL championship.


Chris Long: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure sharing our journey and plans for the future. We’re just getting started, and there’s much more to come from KC Current.


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