Time to deal with Kemper arena?

kemper-arenaPhoto courtesy wikipedia by poster in August 2006

A city council committee on Thursday advanced a measure that directs the city manager to present a planning process for Kemper Arena.

The full council is expected to approve the measure today, forcing movement on the issue.

Kemper has been largely empty and unused for four years, with the American Royal and other events going to the new Sprint Center.

The council resolution directs the city manager to present a planning process in two weeks for the  arena and the West Bottoms.

Councilwoman Jan Marcason said she feels solutions will come if all those involved start talking and working toward them.

The American Royal supports a plan to tear Kemper down and replace it with a smaller agricultural and multipurpose building.

But the Kansas City Star reported in February that the Foutch Brothers, a Kansas City development company, proposes buying Kemper and transforming it into a youth sports facility.

The American Royal has a 50-year lease on Kemper that does not expire until 2045, which officials say seems to give it the upper hand.

But Foutch is trying to get the arena listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which could help with financing a reuse.

The building designed by architect Helmut Jahn opened in 1974 and the American Royal helped pay for its $22 million cost, according to Wikipedia.

Kemper was a venue for the livestock show, the 1976 Republican National Convention, many concerts and sports games and more, but now hosts about two minor events a year, mostly graduations. It leaves the city with a $500,000 yearly deficit, the Star reported.

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