The Kansas City Council is gearing up to make a decision about the future of Kemper Arena.
A representative of Wichita businessmen Rodney and Brandon Steven has confirmed to The Star that they have a serious proposal for repurposing Kemper Arena. That would be a competing proposal to one submitted by Foutch Brothers of Kansas City.
A selection committee has been formed to move the Kemper Arena redevelopment project forward, according to Councilman Scott Taylor, who heads the council’s planning, zoning and economic development committee.
The goal is to hear presentations on the two proposals in February, Taylor said. The city wants to transfer ownership of Kemper Arena to a private group to save more than $1 million a year in operating costs after the last of the public bonds on the facility are paid off in April.
Last May, Kansas City sought national proposals for redeveloping the seriously underused arena in the West Bottoms. Those proposals were due Aug. 21.
Foutch Brothers, a Kansas City company specializing in historic restoration, had long made known its desire to repurpose Kemper as a regional complex for amateur youth, family-oriented and adults sports, including basketball, volleyball and other athletics. Foutch has said it has major investors interested in financing the project.
But this week, Greg Ferris, a consultant to the Steven brothers of Wichita, confirmed that they have also submitted a proposal for the arena.
The Steven brothers own Genesis Health Clubs as well as car dealerships and a stake in several hockey teams. Ferris said they specialize in taking over troubled businesses and making them successful, and that’s what they want to do with Kemper Arena.
He said they envision acquiring the arena and using it for smaller concerts, junior hockey club teams, other indoor sporting events and other entertainment that can attract a few thousand people but don’t need the 15,000-seat Sprint Center.
“They have deep pockets,” Ferris said.
Taylor said the selection committee will include representatives of multiple city departments. He will be on the committee, along with council members Teresa Loar and Katheryn Shields.
They initially plan to hear the two presentations behind closed doors, but Taylor said that once they have a better idea of the viability of those plans, the council will hold public hearings to determine the best reuse of Kemper Arena.