The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

Kemper death leaves American Royal project in limbo

01/03/2014 9:21 AM

01/03/2014 9:27 AM

Local banker and philanthropist R. Crosby Kemper Jr. has died


One of his last projects involved an effort to build a new American Royal exhibition facility in the West Bottoms.

Three years ago, the cost of a new 5,000-seat facility was estimated at $60 million, including some upgrades to the existing Royal facility. The current Kemper Arena would be torn down.

Kemper Jr. and his son


were active in pursuing the project, even pledging $10 million for its costs. But additional financing was never found, and some argued against demolishing Kemper, one-time home to the Kansas City Kings and the site of the 1976 Republican National Convention here.

Famously, its roof caved in after a storm.

Kemper Jr. contributed land and cash to build the arena, in honor of his father.

The city has some interest in mothballing Kemper, which is expensive to maintain. But the Royal has a lease on Kemper through 2045, complicating discussions about its future.

It isn’t immediately clear what impact Kemper’s death will have on talks about a new American Royal exhibition hall. Given the slow progress to date, though, any immediate momentum appear unlikely.


Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service