The Major League Soccer season is roughly halfway finished, with Sporting Kansas City sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference table.
There is reason for optimism off the pitch for the club, however, as Jake Reid — who serves as SKC’s president & CEO — told BetKansas.com this week.
That silver lining is the team’s ability to partner with a national sports betting brand in the months ahead now that Gov. Laura Kelly has signed SB 84 into law.
Reid believes the addition of Kansas online betting proceedings to Children’s Mercy Park is a no-brainer, which explains why SKC was a vocal supporter of the wagering law from its inception.
“We try to look through the lens of fan experience; how does this impact a fan watching a game?” Reid told BetKansas.com. “And to us, this is a net positive in all of those impacts, in terms of engagement with us as a brand, and I think the league and the sport in general.”
An Exciting Time for Major League Soccer
Between the addition of sports betting and the MLS’ new, 10-year, $2.5 billion media rights deal with Apple, the sky is a brilliant shade of blue for Reid and his colleagues.
Reid believes the club’s quest to identify the right sports betting partner is a natural extension of the sport’s growth in the region and country at large, setting the stage for the league’s future.
It’s expected major national betting players like BetMGM Kansas Sportsbook and Caesars Sportsbook will enter the market.
Already Boot Hill Casino in Kansas has reached partnership agreements with DraftKings and Bally Bet Kansas.
“It’s a similar process to partnerships in general,” Reid said. “Obviously, this one's unique in the fact that we're going to be going to market together, and they’re going to be the ones that are running and operating business on our behalf.
“But the financial piece is obviously a part of everything. And for us, you also want the right partner, and I think partner’s the key word.”
Reid said the club’s goal is to find the operator that best fits into their vision for the future, rather than the one that offers the most zeroes on a check.
It’s all about fit for Reid and his team at SKC, from the patches they wear on their kits to the kiosks they place inside the concourse at Children’s Mercy Park.
“How we represent the brand, how we represent the league, how we go to market, how we're interacting with the community, all those things are really important to us,” he added. “And so having someone that understands that and shares that vision of what we're trying to accomplish is going to be important.”
What Are Sporting Kansas City’s Sports Betting Plans
Reid wouldn’t disclose who Sporting KC has been in discussions with but did say the club envisions placing sports betting kiosks around their home grounds — though where and how many depends on who they wind up partnering with.
For now, the club president and CEO is thrilled to see the league’s continued evolution. He is confident the MLS’ partnership with Apple will be the next step that helps build the league nationally, especially with the 2026 World Cup set to take place largely in the U.S.
“I think it’s a fantastic deal, and a deal unlike any other in terms of sports media partnerships,” Reid said. “If you’re a Sporting Kansas City fan, if you live in our DMA, there are ways that you can watch our games, but if you live in another area or another country, it might be more difficult to do so.
“So, I think this makes it simple, and simple is good for fans and consumers. And I think having a one-stop-shop with a brand like Apple is a no-brainer.”
2026 World Cup Could Be a Game-Changer
Another aspect of American soccer Reid discussed was the impending announcement of which cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will host matches during the 2026 World Cup.
Reid believes Kansas City, which is expected to be awarded at least a few matches during the event, would stand to benefit immensely from its inclusion.
“You can make the argument that it’s the biggest announcement possibly in the history of the city if we were to get it,” Reid said. “So, it’d be incredible … to have the ability to have matches in Kansas City for the World Cup. Still seems crazy to say out loud, even though I’ve been involved in the process for many, many years now.
“So, it’s hard to put into words what it would mean for the city, for the sport and for the region.”
One way or another, between Thursday’s potential World Cup inclusion, the MLS’ new Apple deal, and the club’s to-be-determined sports betting pact, it’s a good time to be involved with professional soccer in America.
“It just feels like you’ve got a bunch of these really positive announcements taking place,” Reid said. “I think it's exciting for those of us that are fortunate enough to be in the sport and certainly for those of us representing the Midwest, I think it's been a great couple of weeks of momentum. So, we’re excited to keep it going.”