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Developers Tour Kemper Arena Ahead Of Redevelopment Proposal Deadline

Julie Denesha
Developers met for a private tour of the Kemper Arena redevelopment site on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.

Potential developers gathered on Wednesday morning at Kemper Arena for a site visit. A national call for proposals is out for redevelopment of the underused arena built in the 1970s in Kansas City’s West Bottoms. 

Last year, city officials considered two competing ideas: demolishing the building to make way for a new multipurpose center, or re-purposing it for youth sports. After much discussion, the city decided to reboot the conversation. In May, a request for proposals was issued to adapt and re-use the arena. 

Kemper Arena, designed by architect Helmut Jahn, opened in 1974 as a major facility for indoor events. The 19,500 seat arena hosted the 1976 Republican National Convention, NCAA Final Four basketball games, concerts and livestock shows.

Related: TIMELINE: A Look Back At 40 Years Of Kansas City's Kemper Arena

Events and attendance at Kemper have been in steady decline since the Sprint Center opened in downtown Kansas City in 2007.

City spokeswoman Jennifer Rusch says it’s early in the process, so the site visit on Wednesday was not open to the media. Rusch says the city wanted to provide an open environment for questions during the tour inside and outside of the building. 

The deadline to submit proposals is August 21. In October, the city is expected to host a public presentation with the shortlisted firms. 

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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