Council member raises concerns over Kemper plan

Posted at 10:02 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 23:34:50-04

A day before city leaders are set for a public presentation on possible future plans for Kemper Arena, a City Council member raised concerns regarding the plans proposed by the Foutch Brothers.

On Monday, city leaders selected a proposal from the Foutch Brothers to to turn Kemper Arena into a two-floor amateur sports complex. The facility would feature things like basketball and volleyball courts for youth and sporting events.

However, City Councilwoman Teresa Loar said she has issues with the plans being put forward.

"I want to see the financials," she said. "I would want to see the financials of any company that came forward."

The Foutch Brothers, along with private investors, will pay for the renovations inside the facility, which they estimate will cost around $25 million.

However, Loar explained that the project may cost even more than that.

"It's a big old building to take care of," she said. "You have to keep the water on so the pipes don't freeze. I would imagine heating and cooling, plumbing, electrical, all of that is going to take some work and require quite a bit of money."

Because of the costly elements of the project, Loar said bigger problems may arise down the road.

"The last thing I would want to see is get halfway through or halfway torn up and then default and [have Kemper Arena] come back to the city," Loar explained.

The proposal from the Foutch Brothers was one of two that city leaders focused on regarding the future of Kemper Arena. The other proposal from the Wichita-based Steven Brothers development team would possibly turn the facility into a minor league hockey venue.

Regardless of what proposal is ultimately selected, nearby business owners are excited.

"It would continue the revitalization of the West Bottoms," explained Amigoni Urban Winery owner Michael Amigoni. "West Bottoms is like the next frontier."

Amigoni said if Kemper Arena can be filled on a regular basis, more businesses will be attracted to the area.

"More restaurants coming and more apartment buildings coming, I think it [the proposals for Kemper Arena] could have a great impact," he said.

City Council will have the final say on what proposal is selected for the future of Kemper Arena. On Wednesday, the public will be able to see and learn more about the proposal from the Foutch Brothers.

An open house will be held starting at 6 p.m. at Kemper Arena.



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