Anyone in the market for a Jumbotron?
How about 15,000 arena seats, a stainless-steel bun warmer or a hardwood basketball court? At 5 p.m. Monday, the bids for two entire courts stood at just $650 and $1,250.
Within the next several weeks or months, Kansas City’s storied Kemper Arena — whose heyday in the 1970s made it home to basketball’s Kansas City Kings, hockey’s Kansas City Scouts and the 1976 Republican National Convention — is expected to go under reconstruction.
Bought from the city for $1, the 43-year-old public arena at 1800 Genessee St., in the heart of Kansas City’s West Bottoms, is to be redeveloped by Foutch Brothers LLC of Kansas City into Mosaic Arena, a private amateur sports and entertainment center.
Before any of that happens, the unused arena needs to be emptied of its contents, which have now been placed online for an auction scheduled to end Aug. 23.
A curious aspect of the online auction is that bids are being recorded even though Foutch Brothers has yet to take legal possession of Kemper. As such, any items bought at auction may be removed only after Foutch closes on the building, and that date is unclear.
“While awaiting closing, the buyer does have access to the property to conduct certain activities,” Chris Hernandez, Kansas City’s director of communications, said in an email. “However, the buyer does not have access to the furnishings inside Kemper yet, so it would appear that the auction of furnishings could not be completed until the closing is final.”
Steve Foutch, founder and chief executive officer of the construction company, said Kemper’s items are being offered for auction now to hasten emptying of the building as soon as the sale goes through.
“We need to have so much lead time for people to get a look at it and bid on it that, hopefully, the day that we take possession of the building we can start getting that stuff out of there quickly,” Foutch said.
It has been four years since Foutch proposed his vision for redeveloping Kemper Arena, which was costing city taxpayers about $1 million a year in maintenance. In September, Foutch was able to get Kemper Arena listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making the estimated $30 million project eligible for about $6 million in state historic tax credits and $6 million in federal historic tax credits.
Foutch had hoped to start construction in April. That date was delayed as the company had to wait until July, and the start of Missouri’s current fiscal year, to be considered for the tax credits. The state had already reached its cap of such credits, about $140 million, in the previous fiscal year.
“We’re approved,” Foutch said Monday. “I’m just waiting on the physical letter, which literally could be in the mail today.”
Foutch said that once he receives verification of the tax credits, a “short list” of matters will need to be taken care of before his company takes possession.
“We really hoped we’d be under construction on July 1,” Foutch said. “It’s just been a complex problem, a complex issue with many moving parts.”
As soon as the company takes possession, construction will start.
“Literally, it will be the day after we close on the building. That could be three weeks from now. It could be two months from now. I don’t know,” he said. “Until all these different boxes get checked off, we can’t take possession.”
Hernandez, the city spokesman, acknowledged Monday that there’s been a delay in the property transfer to Foutch, even though the City Council authorized the city manager to complete the deal months ago.
“It’s like with a house,” Hernandez said of the real estate deal. “There’s a contract in place.”
He said the city had hoped the closing would occur July 26, but some remaining details still need to be negotiated. He declined to provide specifics. The new closing date is not yet set.
“We are just as eager as the Foutch Brothers and anyone else to get the deal done,” Hernandez said. “But we need to make sure all the details are in place.”
In the meantime, bidders can go online to browse numerous pages of goods, such as arena seats, bar mirrors, chrome beer taps, Vulcan 10-burner gas stoves with double ovens, tables, stainless-steel sinks, drink dispensers, professional lockers from the locker rooms and electronic billboards that stretch 20 feet across.
On Monday, the bid for a back-lit “memorabilia” sign measuring 6 feet across and 4 feet wide, with photos of artists including Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Prince, was already up to $180.