Complex meant to boost soccer in urban core

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For Jean Paul Chaurand, a volunteer on the Kansas City Parks Board who was instrumental in getting the Swope Soccer Village built, the game of soccer is more than a game, it's a piece of his family history.

Jean Paul's grandfather, Agustin Medina, started playing soccer in Swope Park in the 1950's after immigrating to Kansas City from Mexico, where he played professionally.

"That picture is of the soccer field over there when it was one of the only soccer fields in Kansas City being played, and so it was some of the original goal posts," Chaurand said in a speech on Tuesday.

Swope Park has changed dramatically since then.

"It's amazing to see 60 years later what is being accomplished right behind us," he said.

Thanks to a $13.4 million project, funded by a T.I.F. or Tax Increment Financing, the Swope Soccer Village is now a state of the art soccer park with fields to host major soccer tournaments.

"I love the idea that families from around the country will be gathering here and watching women play soccer here," Mayor Sly James said.

The city's main goal, however, was to bring soccer to the urban core.

"Urban youth deserve an outlet for exploring their interest for soccer or anything else like any other group of kids," said Mayor James.

Chaurand swells with emotion seeing the park he used to play soccer in with his grandfather.

"Oh I think he's smiling down on us from heaven, no doubt, my abuelo, my grandfather, excuse me.  He is just happy as all get out," Chaurand said.

He's happy that his soccer legacy continues to thrive for generations to come.

The soccer village isn't completely done yet, more fields will be added over the winter with a goal of being finished by spring.

Some nearby homes in the Swope Ridge Neighborhood Association are also eligible for a piece of the $13-million T.I.F. for home improvements.

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