Part of the deal offered by Neal Patterson and Mariner Kemper on Wednesday to tear down Kemper Arena sounds intriguing.
That’s their pledge to use their own money for the demolition, at a cost of possibly $6 million.
However, here’s the big stumbling block for Patterson, co-founder and CEO of Cerner Corp., and Kemper, CEO of UMB Financial Corp. And this is the question Kansas City taxpayers deserve a better answer on in the coming months:
How much private money are Patterson, Kemper and other American Royals supporters going to put into the plan to replace Kemper Arena with a smaller building, one that they claim will be in the Royal’s best long-term interests?
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Here’s the answer so far: There are not enough private funds in the pot — yet.
In recent months, figures of around $30 million to even more of public funds have been thrown around as what could be needed to help the American Royal stay in adequate facilities in the West Bottoms.
Meanwhile, Royal backers say they may have up to $20 million to pour into the plans, though that apparently includes the millions needed to demolish Kemper.
So taxpayers should not get seduced by this tear-down promise made Wednesday.
It comes with several other big catches.
▪ If Kemper is gone, so is the opportunity to reuse it in the future, including for a youth sports mecca, as one developer has pledged can happen.
▪ Is there really any proof that plowing tens of millions of public dollars into a new, smaller American Royal facility will really pay off for Kansas City in the future?
Mayor Sly James and other City Council members have plenty of work still left to do as they consider what should happen in the West Bottoms. Millions of taxpayer dollars are at stake.