By Paul Thompson
By the fall of 2018, Kansas City residents can begin making memories at Hy-Vee Arena, just as previous generations made memories at the venue back when it was still called Kemper.
These days, Foutch Brothers is in charge of reimagining the arena as a multi-faceted sporting facility featuring two floors of courts capable of hosting a variety of athletic events. In addition, the venue will be home to dozens of retail businesses including restaurants, an arcade, a coffee shop, a health center, dozens of big screen TV’s, a 350-meter upper level running track, and much more. In total, Foutch Brothers is expected to sink $42 million in hard and soft construction costs into the arena renovation.
Those construction efforts are moving swiftly, as Hy-Vee Arena is expected to open its door for a Pickleball tournament on September 21. In addition, a two-day grand opening is scheduled for Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6. As of the end of June, Foutch Brothers indicated that roughly 70% of the tenant space at the arena is already spoken for.
Sixth District Councilman Scott Taylor led a hard-hat tour of the active construction site on June 29.
“Kemper Arena, before this, was sitting idle basically; owned by the City, we were paying a million dollars a year just to keep the lights on, with really no events.” said Taylor. “People weren’t using the arena.”
In exchange for Foutch Brothers taking over maintenance of the building, the City agreed to sell the aging arena to the developer for a single dollar; an exchange that allowed Kemper Arena to avoid the wrecking ball. In addition, the City agreed to freeze the property taxes for the structure for more than a decade, leaving that cost at roughly $30,000 annually.
During the tour, Taylor reminisced about the concerts he attended at the former Kemper Arena and looked ahead to memories that Kansas City families will make at Hy-Vee Arena moving forward.
“Hall and Oates, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers – my mom made me go with her to that one,” Taylor said. “We all have great memories of Kemper, and it was just time to do something different. I think there are going to be a lot of families that have similar memories of spending time here at Hy-Vee Arena, and we’re going to be able to talk about it for generations to come.”