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Sporting Kansas City installs heating system in preparation for Concacaf Champions League

Children’s Mercy Park, the home of Sporting Kansas City has installed a new heating system for the ground in preparation for the Concacaf Champions League. The electric ribbon-powered heating system is believed to be the first of its kind in American professional sports but similar to some systems in Europe and US college sports.

The Kansas City Star reports the investment in the new system cost millions of dollars and features nearly 25 miles of electrical lines under the playing surface at the Children’s Mercy Park.

Installing the new system despite the high price tag is critical for the club’s ambitions. Qualifying for Concacaf Champions League means Sporting must start its home campaign in February, one of the coldest months of the year and consistently hosting postseason matches usually means November home games as well.

Sporting Kansas City previously have had some notable matches played in adverse weather conditions at Children’s Mercy Park, most notably the icy pitch conditions in the 2013 MLS Cup final against Seattle.

Last week’s Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 first leg match in Kansas City v Deportivo Toluca was played in temperatures that were just above freezing.

“It came down to the bookends of the season,” Sporting Kansas City president and chief executive, Jake Reid, told The Star. “We want to be in Champions League every year, and we want to be hosting playoff matches every year. We play our most critical matches at the start of the year and the end of the year. The high standard that we have here, this was the right thing to do.”