Mission Valley redevelopment poses challenge for local youth sports

The Mission Valley fields were in use Thursday by both girls and boys lacrosse teams.

By Chris Heady

Though a vote on the Tutera Group’s Mission Chateau proposal won’t come for at least two months, the redevelopment of the Mission Valley site — whatever the final plans may be — will almost certainly mean the loss of practice fields used by several youth sports teams.

Since Mission Valley was sold, the Shawnee Mission district no longer has any control over the property. Teams have instead been working with the owners, including The Tutera Group, to reserve practice times. The fields get plenty of use now. On a single day in late April, for example, there was an elementary school baseball team practicing on the baseball diamond, a 7th grade lacrosse team practicing on one field, the SM East freshman lacrosse team playing a game against Rockhurst on another field, another middle school baseball practice in the gym and the JV and varsity SM East lacrosse teams eating a team dinner on the tennis courts.

This all occurred simultaneously between 4 pm and 7 pm.

Carrie Larson, whose son plays on the SM East lacrosse team, was serving dinner to players on the tennis court when she notices how jam-packed the fields were.

“It was great in that all that space was being maximized,” said Larson, who lives just caddy-corner from the fields. “I was like ‘Wow, this space is really getting used.'”

Larson said the fields are a convenience for her children and the loss of them “would definitely have a large impact on lots and lots of families.”

“I really don’t know where (the teams) would go, you would kind of have to have a Plan B and a Plan C,” Larson said. “Is it a good field? Does it cost an arm and a leg? Is it a place that is realistic for the kids to get to? All those questions would have to be answered.”

Not only would surrounding baseball, soccer and lacrosse teams be affected, but so too would sanctioned SM East teams. In the past, both girls and boys soccer practices have been held at the Mission Valley fields. According to SM East principal John McKinney, the relocation of those practices will be up to varsity soccer coach Jamie Kelly.

“We would do whatever he had in mind,” McKinney said. “I’m sure he’ll have a plan A, B and C.”

Some options of relocation for these teams could be Indian Hills Middle School, Franklin Park or Leawood Park.