Chris and Angie Long, both members of the Class of ’97, have always loved sports. In 2019, when they attended the Women’s World Cup in Paris with their daughter, who was playing in youth matches there, they were enthralled by the passion for women’s soccer that they witnessed.
“It was palpable, the energy around the women’s game,” Angie says. And they learned that their hometown of Kansas City — which didn’t even have a pro team — was one of the top U.S. media markets for the televised tournament that draws more than 1 billion viewers globally. “On TV, they kept showing Kansas City to show the fanfare in the U.S.,” Chris says.
One year later, the Longs became co-owners of a National Women’s Soccer League team after they took over the Utah franchise and moved the team to Kansas City. In October, they unveiled its new name, the Kansas City Current. They also announced plans for a new $70 million, 11,500-seat stadium — the first to be built just for a team in the league.
“Why should we be the second tenant in someone else’s stadium?” asks Angie, pointing out that a dedicated stadium gives the team control over schedules, sponsorships, and branding. The Current currently plays in the 18,000-seat Children’s Mercy Park, home of Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City, but a smaller stadium “is the right size for the game at this stage of its development,” says Angie. It will sell out, the couple predicts, and a full stadium lends electricity to the game for fans and players.
The Longs, along with co-owner Brittany Matthews, plan to break ground over the summer and open the stadium for the 2024 season. Privately financed through the ownership group, the project is located on a seven-acre site at Kansas City’s Berkley Riverfront, near the Missouri River. It is part of a revitalization project for the riverfront, not far from the city’s downtown district, that is already spurring new development, with the prospect of condos, boutique hotels, retail, and restaurants being built there.
Chris is the founder and CEO of Palmer Square Capital Management, an asset-management firm that oversees about $20 billion in assets. Angie is Palmer Square’s chief investment officer. They started the company in 2009 and named it after Princeton’s Palmer Square.
They are not the only Princetonians involved in women’s soccer. Mark Wilf ’84 is a co-owner of the NWSL team Orlando Pride, Kara Nortman ’97 is a co-owner of a new team in Los Angeles, Angel City FC, and Mark and Kimberly Johnson, both in the Class of ’95, are co-owners of the Washington Spirit.
The Longs predict their team will turn a profit in two years’ time. Women’s sports, Angie says, have suffered from a lack of investment, but that is changing. “We have the product. We just haven’t had the investment.”
They also have instituted a community give-back program that steers 10 percent of sponsorship revenue into nonprofit programs in Kansas City that promote diversity, offer opportunities for children to participate in sports, and teach girls about careers where women have traditionally been underrepresented.
The stadium’s location near the river was part of the impetus for the team’s new name, Current, which was selected after a lengthy process that included feedback from community leaders, staff, players, and fans. The river’s attributes, Chris says, are the same as the team’s: “Fast-moving and powerful.”