Junk sports, anyone?
How about we give Kemper Arena back to the Kempers. You know, let the rich dudes work it all out. Isn’t that what Donald Trump and the Republican Party are all about? Free enterprise taking care of biz.
So why force impoverished Kansas City taxpayers to choke out seven figures every year to keep Kemper on life (death) support?
Because Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes sealed a really bad deal on Kemper 10 years back when she gave away the farm on the Sprint Center. Kemper was being managed at the time by Philadelphia’s Comcast Spectator and had been cleaned up nicely and was in the black.
Unfortunately Barnes kicked Spectator to the curb and gave new Sprint operator AEG the right to run Kemper. That turned out to be a conflict-of-interest, kiss of death disaster.
Which brings us to the here and now.
Not that Sprint’s been a complete bust.
Other than AEG’s failure to make good on a vow to bring the NHL or NBA to KC, it’s performed rather well. However Kemper’s been a red ink machine ever since.
Which opened the door to horse show loving backers of the downtrodden American Royal to try and pull a fast one by conning the city into razing Kemper and building a new, smaller arena. Fortunately sanity prevailed.
Except for the latest long shot proposal by a group called the Foutch Brothers. The brothers wanna drop $25 to $30 million – much of it in historic tax credits – and turn Kemper into a multi-level, indoor sports hub. You know, for world class sporting events like amateur indoor soccer, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, dance, fitness, running and bicycling.
Hail Mary pass, anyone?
The Foutch folks believe that starting in 2018, Kemper could draw 1,000 visitors a day, 3000 to 5000 on weekends and half a million a year. Like a half million folks are gonna drag down to the former stockyards and West Bottoms where virtually nobody goes so they can play and watch intramural sports.
The good news is that at least the city would divest itself of a $1 million a year obligation.
There was a more mainstream an alternative.
A group of wealthy businessmen from Wichita wanted to preserve Kemper as a sports and entertainment venue – pick up where Spectator left off when it got unceremoniously booted – and bring back ice hockey.
So why not let the guys with the fat wallets take their shot?
Unfortunately that ship seems to have sailed,,,at least for the time being. Because now the ice hockey wannabes – Lamar Hunt, Jr. included – are trying to get the ice hockey job done in South Overland Park.
Which brings us back to the Foutch Brothers.
We go back to square one and let the Kempers sort things out rich guy style.
You know, the American way.
Why force taxpayers to risk another roll of the dice on an iffy proposition like junk sports?