Where KC Crew plays, growth and development follow, said founder Luke Wade.
The adult sports and event company filled Kansas City’s Parade Park every night before the Urban Youth Academy broke ground on East 17th Terrace, for example, Wade said.
“So it’s kind of that economic development. The same thing happened with the riverfront when we built those sand volleyball courts down there,” he said. “There was nothing down there on the riverfront at that point — Well, now they’re building all these apartments down there.”
KC Crew began in 2012, spiked out of Wade and his friends desire for spaces downtown to play sports after work. Wade rented a softball field, started a website and, six years later, 10,000 people play downtown in leagues across 13 different sports and activities, he said.
“This year, our biggest focus was kind of expanding throughout the metro,” Wade said. “So we actually got a partnership with the city of Overland Park at the end of last year. We took over all of their league this year.”
With growth both to the south and into the Northland, KC Crew aims to engage 20,000 players city-wide by the end of 2018, said Wade, adding that a partnership with the Hyvee Arena, formerly Kemper Arena, should carry that dream forward.
The company expects to move into office space in the arena at the end of August, he said. KC Crew also is working with the property’s developers on a new software solution to manage all bookings and events for the changing space, he said. The product would be similar to KC Crew’s LeagueAlly software.
With his background in tech, Wade developed LeagueAlly to organize the company’s events and leagues. The Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department began using the LeagueAlly to manage their youth leagues, he said, and several sports clubs are considering buying and using the software.
While the core demographic of KC Crew’s players is late 20s to early 30s, players range from 18 to 70, Wade said, noting that pickleball seems to enjoy one of the broadest age spectrums squaring off in the court.
In addition to the leagues, KC Crew also runs larger-scale, one-off events, said Wade, detailing Urban Golfing where players chip off up and down Main Street, as well as the End of the World Pub Crawl where downtown is filled with “zombies” and players wear flag football belts and have to make it to each bar without their flags being taken.
KC Crew also hopes to expand such events to other cities, like Detroit and Houston later this year, said Wade.
The company is all about meeting new people, having fun after work and connecting people of different ages, he said.
And once the newly renovated Hy-vee Arena opens in the late summer or early fall, Wade said, those who sign up for fall registration — open in July — will be the first to play together on the arena’s new courts.
The company announced earlier this month it was taking over the Kansas City Star’s former offices on Grand Boulevard to create a space for volleyball, ping-pong and other games. Bar + Rec is expected to open in 2019.