Home to one of the most expensive and unique soccer complexes in the country, as well as a passionate and large base of fans, Overland Park, KS, gets the top spot on our list of soccer cities.
The Overland Park Soccer Complex cost $36 million to construct. It is considered the only complex of its kind in the United States. This 96-acre facility has 12 lighted regulation-size fields, all with synthetic turf. And get this, each field contains a cooling system to control the temperature of the turf. Evaporative cooling fans are located next to players benches, and all fields have electronic video boards to post game results and information. Overland Park will host the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championship tournament and has hosted the 2010 US Youth Soccer National Championship and the 2012 US Youth Soccer Region II Presidents Cup.
"The complex is world class," says Doug Burris, vice president of the Overland Park Soccer Club. "It really has been a driver in the growth of our community. It didn't start soccer here, but it's made it big."
Overland Park Soccer Club, which averages about 1,400 players per season, is part of one of the largest soccer organizations in the country, the Heartland Soccer Association. Heartland is comprised of 800 teams, 13,000 youth players and 2,000 coaches. Among the largest soccer clubs in Overland Park is Blue Valley, which is also participates in the HSA and has more than 6,000 players. There are about 30 soccer clubs in the area.
The city is home to the St. Thomas Aquinas High School's boys soccer team which won the 2009 National Championship and 13 state championships. It is also where Jordan Jackson, one of the top 100 women college players, grew up.
"Having such phenomenal soccer facilities provides great opportunities for residents here to get out and stay active and involved," Burris says. "Adults get that to. There are great adult leagues here as well."
Overland Park is just 20 minutes away from where the Major League Soccer team Sporting Kansas City plays its home games. Sporting Kansas City averages more than 17,800 fans per match. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America is based in Kansas City, KS. There are also four nearby colleges that have soccer teams including the University of Kansas.
What else is here:
Overland Park has 83 parks and open spaces and four small lakes.
Johnson County has 10 parks, six sports facilities, three marinas, a nature center and adventure center.
Check out more outdoor activities in Overland Park.