Kemper Loses AR BBQ Contest
May 5, 2015

AP) – The American Royal plans to move its World Series of Barbecue from western Kansas City to more spacious grounds at the Truman Sports Complex beginning with this year’s competition Oct. 1-4, organizers announced Tuesday.
The competition, which draws nearly 50,000 people, has been held in the West Bottoms of Kansas City near Kemper Arena for three decades, but it has outgrown the grounds, American Royal officials said. Last year, 560 teams competed but 40 had to be turned away because of lack of space.
“We’ve enjoyed many great years in the West Bottoms,” John Mitchell Jr, chairman of the American Royal, said in a news release. “However, to continue to enhance the American Royal’s World Series of Barbecue for all competitors and patrons, we must go.”
The livestock show and other American Royal events will continue to be held in the West Bottoms.
The Kansas City Royals and the Chiefs are both scheduled to play away games the weekend of the barbecue completion at the sports complex.

American Royals Breaks Off Kemper Arena Talks With City
November 24, 2014

The American Royals says it will no longer participate in City Hall talks over the future of Kemper Arena and other city-owner buildings in the West Bottoms.
“We don’t think our further participation in a public debate regarding these facilities is healthy for our organization,
Lawyers for the group sent a letter to City Councilman Ed Ford. He is leading a joint committee trying to figure out the future of the 40 year old structure.
Earlier this month, the Royal’s call for $30 in city money for demolition, and a $1 million/year of city money for utilities ran into opposition.
The Royla says it’s an would save the city $100 million over the remaining 30 years of the lease between City Hall and the Royal.
The Royal
Proposal is the only one on the table now.
An alternative offered by the Foutch Brothers development firm to convert the old arena into a youth sports complex was withdrawn, supposedly under pressure from the Royal.
The American Royal also thinks the dispute over Kemper Arena is translating into a debate over the future of the American Royal.
“The current debate and negative dialogue have become a detriment to the American Royal brand and its core mission.
Fird says a hearing planned for early next month on Kemper’s future is now pointless.

Patterson & Kemper Offer to Demolish Kemper Arena
September 12, 2014

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.”

Public Hearing on Kemper Arena’s Fate
August 26, 2014

KC Star:

If Kansas City Council members were seeking a community consensus on the future of Kemper Arena, they didn’t get it Monday night.

Instead, about 80 people who turned out for a public hearing voiced sharply divergent opinions on the proper path forward. The 20 speakers were almost evenly divided on two competing proposals before the City Council.

One of those calls for demolishing Kemper Arena to make way for a custom-designed agricultural/multipurpose center for the American Royal. The other is a vision by Foutch Brothers to renovate and repurpose Kemper Arena as a regional hub for youth sports.

Bertil Wamelink, president of the Heart of America Region USA Volleyball, urged the Council’s Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee to support the Foutch plan. He said his organization brings 900 teams to Bartle Hall but has maxed out that facility, and the Kemper plan could bring hundreds more teams to the region.

The Monday Poll: How you voted on Kemper Arena proposals
American Royal to city on Kemper Arena plan: No on coexistence
Given the options, Kansas City should preserve and reuse Kemper Arena
“I would hate to see that opportunity be wasted,” he said. “It seems to me almost a no-brainer.”

Historic preservation advocates also strenuously opposed the demolition of an architecturally significant building and said there should be a way to accommodate both plans.

But American Royal supporters said Foutch doesn’t have the proven 100-year track record of the American Royal as a local treasure, and argued the new building can ensure its national stature and long-term future. They said they did not want a new building in the shadow of Kemper Arena.

Read more here:

Kemper Arena–Dimming and Down
June 27, 2012

The Kansas City Star reports the City is making the first moves Wednesday to place Kemper Arena in mothballs.
The arena has been on the back bench for events since the Sprint Center opened in downtown Kansas City in 2007.
The Star reports a City Council Committee will make the first moves toward ending the Kemper’s management contract with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG). The city will regain full control of the aging and discarded arena.
“We’ll stop all pretense of trying to market it as an alternative events space, and let AEG focus on filling the Sprint Center,” City Manager Troy Schulte said to the Star.
Kemper has hosted just over 50 events in the last three years, not counting the American Royal shows and exhibitions. That’s almost no business at all.
The are costs involved in mothballing Kemper Arena, according to the Star.
It reports the City still has to pay off the remaining six months of AEG’s Kemper Arena management fees listed in the contract. That’s about $216,000, according to the Star.
The utility bills in the Kemper run more than $400,000 a year, according to the report. The city hopes putting Kemper on the shelf can lead to reduced bills.
The Star also reports the City has to come up with a plan to accommodate the American Royal events that are in Kemper each year.
Last year the Royal moved its marquee American Royal Rodeo out of Kemper and into the Sprint Center downtown.
Kemper’s history including hosting the 1976 Republican Convention; hundreds of concerts; the Kansas City Scouts NHL team; the Kansas City Kings of the NBA ;the Kansas City Comets, an early and popular indoor soccer team, and the 1988 NCAA Final Four, which was won by home-town favorite, the University of Kansas.