Nearly 13,000 people gathered to watch the United States’ World Cup match versus Germany in Kansas City’s Power & Light District Thursday, and thousands more were expected for today’s match.
This year has put the district on a national stage, with Power & Light getting airtime on ESPN and The Associated Press naming it one of the top five watch parties for World Cup fans.
Although the Power & Light District has heavily promoted the games through social media, Executive Director Nick Benjamin said the success of this year’s watch parties largely reflects what Sporting Kansas City has done to build a soccer culture in Kansas City.
The turnout may mean the district is finally coming into its own, Assistant City Manager Rick Usher said. The city has invested heavily in the eight-block retail and entertainment district since it opened in 2007, and a number of downtown projects have launched in the area, he said.
The district was designed with the hope it eventually would repay the $295 million in bonds the city issued for its development with tax revenue from its restaurants and shops. The revenue has not been close to projections, however, forcing the city to provide a $10 million to $15 million annual subsidy to cover the shortfall and leaving a large portion for taxpayers to cover.