KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Kemper Arena will soon be no more. The city has made the decision to tear down the 37-year-old building and replace it with an Agricultural Events Center, which will include a 5,000-seat coliseum.
Mariner Kemper says replacing the building will keep the family's legacy alive. The building would be dedicated to hosting horse events year around.
"I promoted this in honor of my father and our legacy," said R. Crobsy Kemper. "I think holding on to something that is clearly going to come down at some point rather than getting behind a project and building for the future."
"We're bringing it back to the original mission and the original design for what the building was really meant to be down here for the American Royal," Kemper said.
American Royal leaders called on the city on Tuesday to buy into a proposal for the center. The cost of the new building will be about $50 million. The American Royal will contribute more than $12 million with $10 million to be raised by private campaigns. The rest would come from a financing package put together by the city.
The facility, which has sat largely empty since the opening of the Sprint Center in Downtown, is currently home to the annual American Royal Horse and Livestock Show. A $23 million expansion in 1997 raised the seating capacity to 19,500 for basketball, and increased the size of the concourse and other improvements.
Opened in the Kansas City Stockyards in 1974 at a cost of $22 million, the facility was home to a number of sporting events, concerts and other events, including the NBA's Kansas City Kings, the 1976 Republican National Convention and the 1988 NCAA Men's Final Four.
The roof of the building collapsed during a severe storm in June of 1979, causing millions of dollars in damage.