Developer shows interest in saving Kemper Arena - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Developer shows interest in saving Kemper Arena

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

It's hosted thousands of events since it was first opened back in 1974, but since Sprint Center opened, Kemper Arena's future has been uncertain.

Now one group has an idea to save the arena from the wrecking ball.

"We'd like to be the first city to say, ‘Yes we can.' We found a different way to make two arenas still exist," said Steve Foutch with Kansas City-based Foutch Brothers.

Kemper Arena has been a part of the West Bottoms and downtown Kansas City for decades, but it became vacant. Now one area group hopes to change that.

"It's in a very good location being in the central city. It's got all of the features in the building that we're looking for - parking, vending and 18,000 seats for spectator viewing," Foutch said.

He said he wants to buy the building and make it into a regional hub for youth and amateur sporting events, as well as a variety of fitness, education and healthy lifestyle activities. He said Kemper Arena could be the next great downtown success story.

"Us bringing in 500,000 new visitors to the West Bottoms on a constant stream of activity every day, now you can start to develop the West Bottoms with that constant activity," Foutch said.

It's a plan that's already working with other former Kansas City-area buildings that were all set for the wrecking ball as the developer specializes in revitalizing historic buildings. The old Horace Mann Elementary School at Eighth Street and State Avenue in Kansas City, KS, was turned into 30 luxury lofts.

"There's always another way to re-occupy a building or convert it into some other use," Foutch said.

The company said they've already acquired several new businesses to operate within Kemper and their renovation plans and costs have been reviewed by city officials.

The group is hoping to have about a $21 million investment in the building, and now it's just a matter of working with the city to make it happen.

The developer said if they are able to purchase the arena, it will also save the city $6.5 million to tear it down. They hope to have it ready by next winter sports season.

Another group, the American Royal, would like to see Kemper demolished and replaced with a small facility for equestrian events.

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