KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Two Kansas City executives who support tearing down Kemper Arena and replacing it with a smaller building are offering to fund the demolition.
Neal Patterson, CEO of Cerner Corp., said Wednesday that he and Mariner Kemper, CEO of UMB Financial Corp., would pay for the demolition of the little-used Kansas City arena. The American Royal has proposed replacing Kemper with a $50 million, 5,000-seat arena, primarily for American Royal events.
Another developer, the Foutch Brothers, wants to buy the arena for a small cost and spend $22 million renovating it as a regional youth athletics facility, with a smaller building for the Royal on site.
Patterson, a lifetime governor of the American Royal, estimated during a speech at the annual Business & Scholarship Luncheon, that the demolition would cost $5 million, The Kansas City Star reported. The city estimates it would cost between $6 million and $6.5 million.
The 18,000-seat arena, which was built in the 1970s, has been used sparingly since the Sprint Center opened in downtown Kansas City.
Mariner Kemper, chairman of the American Royal board of governors, said he and Patterson want to remove a major obstacle to the organization’s proposal.
“We keep hearing that everyone’s choking on spending $5 million to tear down the building, so this is our last offer to get the positive results for the city,” he said.
City Manager Troy Schulte said the offer would make the American Royal’s proposal more financially feasible.
The City Council’s Planning, Zoning & Economic Development Committee is considering the proposals and could make a recommendation to the city council by early October, said committee chairman Ed Ford.
Foutch attorney John Fairfield said his clients believe their plan doesn’t undermine a lease American Royal has with the city for the arena, or its plans for a new building.
“We think it’s a historic building that can be renovated and redeveloped in a positive way,” Fairfield said. “Which doesn’t necessarily eliminate what the American Royal wants to do. It just changes the location of their building.”
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