DII Football Championship comes to Kansas City
After spending the last 28 years in Florence, Alabama, the NCAA Division II Football Championship will begin a new chapter in Kansas City. When the student-athletes finally take the field at Sporting Park on December 20, an exclamation point will be added to the efforts of crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” in preparation for this event.
The vision of hosting the championship began when Sporting Park opened in Kansas City, Kansas in 2011. The home of Major League Soccer’s, Sporting Kansas City, Sporting Park presented an opportunity that wasn’t overlooked by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), an NCAA Division II Conference office headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. A beautiful stadium, with the perfect seating capacity, in the middle of the MIAA footprint? CHECK, CHECK and CHECK! MIAA Commissioner Dr. Bob Boerigter and myself, as the MIAA Associate Commissioner, agreed that the MIAA office needed to make a run at hosting the championship. And so the journey toward bringing the championship to Kansas City began.
Our prior experiences provided a big boost in the desire to bring the championship to Kansas City, with Dr. Bob not only having served on the Division II Football Committee, but he also made several trips to Florence, AL as the Director of Athletics at 4-time DII National Champion Northwest Missouri State University, and also as the MIAA Commissioner. My experience as an NCAA championships staff member has also been key to my preparation of looking at the championship from all angles.
The process for NCAA member institutions and conferences, and local organizing committees to bid on these championships, began in the spring of 2013. Bids were due in the fall of 2013. The MIAA office began working with Sporting Park, the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC on crunching the numbers, collecting letters of support from both sides of the state line, and pulling together an overall great deal of information that showed that Kansas City could put on a great event for the student-athletes and their fans. The bid was finally submitted and then we waited.
On December 11, 2013 the waiting was over when the NCAA announced the location of more than 430 sites, with 14 national championships being awarded to Kansas City. Four of those were the Division II Football Championships through 2017. Staff from the MIAA and the Kansas City Sports Commission made the trip to Florence, AL the following week to meet with NCAA staff and the Division II Football Committee, while taking in the activities surrounding the 2013 championship between Lenoir-Rhyne and Northwest Missouri State.
After a holiday break to recharge the batteries, championship planning went in to full effect in January 2014. The last 11 months or so have proven to be a balancing act of our normal, every day responsibilities and all championship-related tasks. From tickets and fireworks to parking and pep rallies, we’re doing everything we can to provide the best possible experience for everyone involved. You can see it for yourself on December 20 at Sporting Park – we hope to see you there!
By Amber Feldman, Associate Commissioner/SWA, MIAA