American Royal drops its Kemper plan

Used under a Creative Commons agreement courtesy CC BY-SA 2.5.

Used under a Creative Commons agreement courtesy CC BY-SA 2.5.

Not long ago there were two competing plans for Kemper Arena – now there are none.

The American Royal said in a letter today that it is halting planning and fund-raising for its $60 million plan to raze Kemper and replace it with a smaller building.

The letter to Councilman Ed Ford says the plan would have saved the city more than $100 million but “….the City Council, media and elements of the public have not embraced the redevelopment plan and unfortunately the current debate and negative dialog have become a detriment to the American Royal brand and its core mission,” the letter states.

The action comes after council committee members agreed to put out a national request for proposals for the 40-year-old building.

That request is not needed for the city to resolve problems under the Royal-city lease for Kemper, the letter states, “nor is it necessary in order to accept the $20 million in construction and endowment funds that have been on the table.”

It goes on: “…it is clear that the City is, at best, lukewarm about the prospects of accepting American Royal resources to solve this problem. For that reason, the City should go into the RFP process under no illusion that our long-standing offer will remain permanently in place.”

The city loses about $1.6 million a year on the building that has been seldom used since the new Sprint Center opened. It also pays $2.3 million a year for bonds used for past renovations.

And the American Royal contends the city is $24 million behind in needed maintenance.

At least they do not say they are leaving the West Bottoms where they have operated for more than a century.

“Notwithstanding the unacceptable condition of the facilities, our rights to Kemper Arena and the American Royal complex remain important assets in our organization unless and until we find an alternative,” the letter states.

The royal will refocus on a successful 2015 season “and ensuring our lease requirements have been met,” it states.

The letter is signed by Polsinelli attorneys Korb W. Maxwell and Chase F. Simmons.

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