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Progress at Kemper Arena: Venue features two floors of courts

Posted: 2:44 PM, Feb 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-06 21:52:38-05
New Kemper will feature two floors of courts
New Kemper will feature two floors of courts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Concrete is being poured in Kemper Arena to split the large event space into two levels of sports floors and courts. It will also be the home to 40 to 50 commercial stores and restaurants when it opens in August.

PHOTOS |  Kemper Arena begins transformation

"We need the supply, the financial supply to make sure we could pay for all this, that's where the second floor came in. We have enough space to have large tournaments, to have large volumes of activity here," said Steve Foutch, the CEO of Foutch Brothers, the development group that bought Kemper Arena from the city for $1.

The developers are trying to monetize all four floors of Kemper.  

"There were a couple of concerts I had a good time at, and some of the rodeos I went to," said Jeff Daugherty, who remembers Kemper in its hay day and works down the street from the arena.

But the new facility will look different. It will have athletic training, physical therapy, massages, weight rooms and other office space on the first floor.

There will be two floors of performance, which will include 12 courts for various sports, as well as restaurants, coffee shops and other retail.

The lower bowl will have four courts and is about 30,000 square feet.

The upper bowl will have eight courts and is about 83,000 square feet.

The fourth floor will be one of the largest indoor track's in the Midwest at 350 meters and five lanes. There will also be some machinery and office space on this level.

The developers said more than 40 percent of the concourse will be glass.  They are also updating the ticket office and much of the outdoor facade.

It will be open from 6 a.m. until midnight, 365 days a year.

"A nice steady, slow churn coming in," said Foutch, who said he believes this venture will better support Kemper's success than the former setup.

Kemper Arena was constructed in 1974 at a cost of $22 million.

The developers will put in $42 million to complete the project, and will receive a tax abatement for 11.5 years. 

Right now there are about 200 events planned for Kemper's first fiscal year and retail space is about 40 percent leased.  

The first major event is on Sept. 20, and is an International Pickleball Tournament.

Many community members are hoping this redevelopment will bring new life to the Bottoms.

"Once you see a larger investment, it makes you more comfortable to make an investment for apartments or residential," said Council Member Scott Taylor.

Daugherty said he is happy his favorite venue from the 70s is still around.

"I’m glad to see them doing something with that building instead of tearing it down," said Daugherty.

Foutch expected to release the naming sponsor for the venue later this week.