- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kemper Arena could someday become a regional youth sports complex that would draw thousands of children and their families to an underused area in western Kansas City, a developer told a city advisory committee.

Steve Foutch on Thursday detailed his arena proposal to the City Council’s Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee.

Foutch Brothers, which specializes in historic renovation, wants to construct a new second floor at Kemper and add 12 basketball courts, fitness rooms and the area’s largest indoor running track, with room for several other sports, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1oLdUD0 ). It would preserve a building that is still useful, despite being rarely used since the Sprint Arena opened in 2007, Foutch said.

Committee member John Sharp supported Foutch.

“I am excited about this concept,” Sharp said. “I just hate to see it demolished, quite frankly.”

The council will hear next week from officials with the American Royal, which wants to replace Kemper with a smaller building for equestrian and agricultural events, and offer the building for youth soccer and other athletics when it’s not in use.

American Royal attorney Chase Simmons said architects have estimated it would cost more than the $50 million price of a new building to renovate Kemper to last another 40 years. He called the Foutch plan a “Band-Aid” and predicted the controversy would return in about 10 years.

Foutch said Kemper can be rehabilitated for $22 million, which he can finance privately if the city sells him the building and gives him 10 years of property tax abatement.

John Fairfield, an attorney for Foutch, said the project would not conflict with the American Royal’s long-term lease with the city and said the American Royal can still construct its building on land north of Kemper. But Simmons said that he believes the Foutch plan does conflict with the American Royal’s lease and doesn’t leave enough space for the Royal’s new building.

The City Council is expected to choose the preferred option by the end of September.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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