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Kemper Family Says Raze Namesake Arena

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Architect's rendering provided by the American Royal Association. Click to enlarge.
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The proposed new American Royal arena would have about the same floor-space as Kemper Arena, but be less massive.

By Steve Bell

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kcur/local-kcur-991168.mp3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The family that got the ball rolling on a Kansas City arena forty years ago wants to get the wrecking ball swinging and replace it.

R. Crosby Kemper, Jr. and son Mariner Kemper said Kemper Arena, in need of repairs and losing $1 million a year, no longer serves Kansas City well. A different kind of facility could serve the American Royal better, the Kempers said.

They propose joining with the city to raze what they see as a "white elephant" and building a more compact "agricultural events center."

Their commitment goes beyond simply endorsing the idea. They have promised to seed and lead a fundraising campaign if the city goes along with the idea.

American Royal president and CEO Bob Petersen estimates that to tear down the old arena, pay off the city's debt on it and build a new home for the American Royal will cost about $70 million.

Mayor Sly James and several council members said it's an idea definitely worth exploring.

*Correction - an earlier version of this story incorrectly included Crosby Kemper III. It is R. Crosby Kemper, Jr. who donated the land and money in 1974, not his son.

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