Future of Kemper Arena still up in the air

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The future of the Kemper Arena in the West Bottoms is still up in the air.

The Planning and Zoning Committee decided Wednesday afternoon to meet with businesses and key players in the area.

Kemper Arena often sits empty; the nearly 20,000-seat building sees a busy season three months out of the year.

"Kemper Arena in this day and age is largely dark, not much happens there anymore ever since the advent of the new Sprint Center in 2007," Bob Petersen, President and CEO of The American Royal, said.

Petersen wants to tear the building down and rebuild a smaller, multi-purpose arena and quickly.

"We first proposed this in October of 2011 and everything just seems to take longer and longer and longer and we're ready to go," Petersen said.

However, that won't happen. The City Manager's Office analyzed the plan to knock down the arena and the plan to renovate it entirely.

The timeframe to come to a resolution isn't expected until September.

Bill Haw owns an art gallery down the street from Kemper.

"The fact is it's more exhibitor-centric. Most of the exhibitors stay in the facility. The merchants here on the street don't really see them, don't really know when they're here," Haw said.

Haw thinks it makes more sense to sell the building and repurpose it as a youth sports complex.

"You know choosing between the two, we believe the Foutch brothers' plan is a lot more viable in terms of bringing traffic down here," Haw said.

Now, the Planning and Zoning Committee will meet with business owners and other key players in the West Bottoms. They want public input about what would be the best decision for the blossoming district and the city.

The committee will start meetings in July. They hope to come to a resolution in 90 days.

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