Kansas City: Sports Central

It's hard to live in Kansas City and not be a sports fan. Here's why.

When it comes to sports, Kansas Citians are among the most enthusiastic and loyal fans around. And there are plenty of events -- and teams -- to cheer here, especially because two states comprise the metropolitan area. Nowhere is local sports pride more apparent than among Kansas City Chiefs fans, who scrounge for tickets even when the team is having an off season, make tailgating at home games a true art form, and wear team colors year-round.

Football mania continues as locals root for their favorite college teams. In Kansas City, that most often means the University of Kansas Jayhawks, the Kansas Sate Wildcats and the University of Missouri Tigers. Rivalries can be extremely intense among fans, and many homes fly flags with their college colors throughout the year.

But the mania for college sports doesn’t end with football. College basketball has an enormous following here, with loyal fans who watch every game of the Big 12 championship series, and map out who they think will win on grids that show each upcoming contest, during 'March Madness.' Little wonder, given that James Naismith invented the game at the University of Kansas. Nor is it surprising that the College Basketball Experience and National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame were built in the new Sprint Center complex, which is part of Kansas City, Mo.’s recent urban core renaissance.

Although they play ball on separate fields, the Kansas City Royals share the newly renovated Truman Sports Complex with the Chiefs, and the 'Boys in Blue' have plenty of fans too. Legendary players include George Brett and Frank White. Each year, opening day for the Royals draws a loyal crowd, including plenty of kids. Since the franchise began, in 1993, the Kansas City T-Bones have also become a popular baseball team. 2008 Northern League Champions, the T-Bones play at Community America Ballpark, Kansas City, Kan., in the exceptionally popular, recently developed Village West area.

Many Kansas Citians have long enjoyed watching NASCAR races at a distance. But ever since the Kansas Speedway opened in western Kansas City, Kan., NASCAR events have been minutes rather than hours away. And that makes auto-racing fans extremely happy. Two years after the initial announcement that the speedway would be built, all 32 of the luxury suites were sold out, and fans watched their first race at the new facility in June 2001 -- the inaugural running of the NASCAR Winston West Series Kansas 150 and ARCA RE/MAX Series BPU 200. Today, the Kansas Speedway hosts multiple major motor race events each year.

For many youngsters who live in the metropolitan area, soccer is their sport of choice. In fact, soccer is so popular with elementary through high school students in Johnson County, Kan. (on the west side of the state line), that the Heartland Soccer Association represents approximately 600 teams, 11,000 youth players, 2,000 coaches and 300 referees, each season. And many families allocate hours of each weekend to playing, coaching or watching soccer.

If you like sports, Kansas City offers plenty of options and entertainment.

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