Fans [heart] Stadiums - Sporting KC - primary image

Sporting Kansas City | Fans ♥ Stadiums

"Welcome to the Blue Hell,” reads the famous banner draped at the supporters’ end of Children’s Mercy Park, home of Sporting Kansas City, and one of the most infamous stops in MLS for visiting teams. It’s not because the field or facilities prove treacherous, though — on the contrary, the stadium, which opened in 2011, offers some of the league’s smoothest grass and cleanest hallways.

"Welcome to the Blue Hell" | photo by Jamila St. Ann

Rather it’s the unwavering, thunderous crowd inside that makes this a truly special, must-see stop on the MLS circuit. The supporters’ section, known as The Cauldron, boasts some of the most elaborate — and often downright scary — tifo around. But at the same time, the entire stadium, even on a “regular” night, barely sits down; the noise only seems to quiet for people to catch their breath. Though the stadium’s decidedly inland, something’s definitely in the water.

The Cauldron section after a goal | photo by Jamila St. Ann

Fans of all ages pack the Cauldron | photo by Jamila St. Ann

But while Sporting fans might try to intimidate the players of visiting teams when they’re on the pitch, they also offer some of the friendliest hospitality to visiting fans. Indeed, for anyone looking to make some new, soccer-loving friends, no visit to Children’s Mercy Park is complete without first stopping by The Cauldron’s tailgate, in a parking lot near the entrance.

Fans of all ages pack the Cauldron | photo by Jamila St. Ann

You’ll recognize it by the large school bus parked in the lot; that’s where you can pick up limited-edition, supporter-designed merchandise. Nearby, too, you’ll find plenty of friendly fans offering up shared beverages and, of course, KC barbecue.

Look for the Cauldron's school bus | photo by Jamila St. Ann

The regional food flavor continues inside, of course — you’ll find brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, naturally, or even cross-cultural snacks like nachos featuring those meats. If you’re of legal drinking age, though, on a hot day, local cocktails prove extra-refreshing — especially the, yes, Blue Hell, a neon-blue vodka-lemonade concoction served in a reusable mason jar.

If you’d like to kick up the festivities extra, meanwhile, head down to the VIP lounge, full of more local food and drink, fun, Insta-worthy photo walls, and a DJ before and after the game.

Plenty of great food choices | photo by Jamila St. Ann

But the game’s what you came for, right? To get right into the action, The Cauldron is where you want to go — but arrive early. It’s general admission, and things get packed soon. Newcomers are welcome here, but the only requirement is participation: singing, chanting and drumming goes nonstop for the full 90. When (and it’s usually a “when”) the home side scores, be ready for a sweaty hug from a stranger.

Anywhere else in the stadium, though, proves a solid place to take in the action. Obstructed views don’t exist; relatively steep sightlines, and minimal distance from the pitch, means you can both take in the tactical action and get a relative close-up of your favorite players.

Not a bad seat in the house | photo by Jamila St. Ann

Add this all up with the fact that, at home, Sporting KC most often win — and you’ve got a sure bet to soak in one of North America’s most unique soccer experiences. Come for the on-field product, stay for the hospitality, and leave with another essential stop on the circuit checked off your MLS bucket list.

Sporting KC players salute the fans | photo by Jamila St. Ann

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