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Kansas City Council Committee Hears Plan To Save Kemper Arena

A Kansas City council committee responded favorably Thursday to a proposal to convert Kemper Arena into a youth sports complex, but it's too early to declare the aging arena safe from the wrecking ball.

Developer Steve Foutch told the council committee: there's no need to tear down Kemper to make way for a new, smaller American Royal complex, there's plenty of room for two separate arenas to coexist.

His plan: the city would declare the arena “surplus” and sell it to him for “a nominal amount,” giving the project 10-year tax abatement. He would secure financing for the $23 million or more it would take to convert Kemper to contain eight basketball-court sized facilities, a fitness center, running track and other tournament and training facilities for youth.

At the end of the meeting, Councilman John Sharp said the plan has a chance.

“Many of us think that if people work together we can have both ... and it won't have to be an either/or situation,” Sharp said.

Right now, the parties involved are not working together very well. The American Royal has insisted that the old arena should be torn down and the new one built on its site.

They make their case before the committee next week.

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