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Developer Hoping To Save Kemper Touts Two Arenas For West Bottoms

J.S. Clark

The developer who wants to rehab Kemper Arena and turn it into a youth sports complex made a pitch for his company's plan to a downtown lunch club Wednesday afternoon.

Steve Foutch told the Kansas City Downtowners it's possible city council members could move forward with a plan that both preserves Kemper and gives the American Royal the new arena it wants.

"Our designs show both buildings can co-exist in the location," Foutch says. "It's all about the logistics of the operation."

The Downtowners invited Foutch to speak after hearing a competing presentation from the American Royal last year. The American Royal, which has a long-term lease with the city to use Kemper and the surrounding complex, says the Foutch Brothers' plan wouldn't leave enough room for its annual barbecue contest and wants the arena torn down.

Foutch says he knows the World Series of Barbecue is wildly popular, but he thinks compromise still is possible.

"We're not trying to get in the way of that, but we think the barbecue contest needs to go beyond the bounds of just that American Royal Complex area and expand into the whole West Bottoms development," he says.

It's likely the city council will vote on the future of Kemper arena later this month.

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