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Mayor Kay Barnes
29th Floor, City Hall
Kansas City, Missouri

Contact: Lara Schopp, (816) 513-3503

Mayor Barnes Announces Plans for New Downtown Arena

Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes today announced the plan for a new $250 million arena in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, nearly half of which will be privately financed through partnerships with AEG, Sprint Corporation and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

The remainder of the financing will be composed of a combination of tax credit financing, hotel and car rental license fees, and user fees.

The state-of-the-art 18,000 to 20,000-seat arena will be located between 13th and 15th Streets andimage of new arena
Grand and Oak Streets downtown, and will serve as an anchor on the eastern edge of the new Kansas City Live entertainment/retail/restaurant district currently under development by the Cordish Company. The new arena is envisioned as a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week venue which will feature restaurants and retail activity, in addition to housing the new offices of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. The NABC is expected to provide $10,000,000 in financing.

In addition, AEG, one of the world’s leading sports and entertainment presenters, will serve as a partner with the City of Kansas City in the development, operation and management of the new arena. AEG has indicated that it will make a $50 million commitment to the project if the initial phase projections are confirmed by due diligence, and will also assist the City with the attraction of an anchor tenant for the arena.

Sprint Corporation has signed a letter of intent with the City of Kansas City for the naming rights for the new arena. AEG is advising the City in further discussions with Sprint Corporation for these naming rights.

The public portion of the financing package will not require a general tax increase, but will require Kansas City voters to approve tourism and travel related fees. This includes increases in the hotel license fees of $1.50 per night, and car rental license fees of $3.50 per day plus 50 cents pr day for convention and tourism marketing. An ordinance will be introduced at Thursday’s Council legislative session to place this issue on the August 3rd, 2004 ballot. Public testimony will be taken at the Council’s Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, May 19th, and the Council must act on the ordinance by May 20th.

image of new downtown arena
“Today’s announcement is another major step forward in the revitalization of downtown Kansas City,” Barnes said. “The combination of the new arena with the H&R Block world headquarters and Kansas City Live, plus the Performing Arts Center will create a spectacular new district downtown with something for everyone, from those living here in the metropolitan area to visitors to Kansas City. I am thrilled that so many prestigious partners have come together with the City of Kansas City to make the new arena a reality.”

Timothy J. Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, said, “As a Kansas City resident of many years and someone who has continued to follow the growth of this great city, it is my impression that, although a world-class city in nearly every aspect, Kansas City has fallen behind the rest of the country as it relates to facilities for sports and entertainment. Mayor Barnes is clearly a visionary for recognizing that the development of a state-of-the-art arena in a city's urban core has time and again proven to be a true economic juggernaut. AEG is proud to be part of this vision and this community and our entire organization looks forward to making this vision a reality for all involved.”

Gary Forsee, chairman and CEO of Sprint, said, “Having a prosperous, vibrant downtown ensures that our region will continue to attract new visitors and tourists and improve the economic viability of the area. The Sprint Center offers us a great opportunity to promote both our brand and our commitment to Greater Kansas City. We are honored to have our name on a signature entertainment venue in what we believe is one of this nation’s greatest cities.”

Barnes anticipates that a request for qualifications for the design of the new arena will be issued in mid-June, with responses expected back to the City by mid-August. The arena will be planned to be “National Hockey League and National Basketball Association-ready,” and will also be designed to accommodate concerts and other entertainment and sports events, as well as ancillary convention space.

Barnes also extended special thanks to the majority land owners in the area of the proposed site, Tom McDonnell of DST and Crosby Kemper III of UMB bank. The Mayor acknowledged McDonnell for his vision in acquiring parcels of land in the downtown loop for future development such as the arena. In addition, she thanked Kemper for his willingness to enter discussions to make his property available to the City for construction of the arena.

The location provides easy access to thousands of existing parking spaces available to the public. Moreimage of new downtown arena
than 15,000 parking spaces exist within a five-minute walk from the proposed arena site, and nearly 35,000 spaces are available within a ten-minute walk from the site.

Upon completion and opening of the new arena, which is expected in early 2007, Kemper Arena will become a premier venue for equestrian and live stock events year-round, in conjunction with the America Royal Association. The Board of the American Royal has recently commissioned a feasibility study and master plan for both Kemper Arena and Hale Arena to develop a first class facility designed specifically for a top flight livestock, equine, agriculture entertainment and festival district in the Central Industrial District. This study should be completed in 90 to 120 days.

“I also want to thank Mark Ernst of H&R Block and Blake Cordish of the Cordish Company, neither of whom could be here today,” Barnes said. “They more than anyone realize that a new arena as part of the entertainment district is one of the final pieces toward fulfilling our dream of fully revitalizing the downtown loop.”

Arena Funding Plan (pdf)

3D Arena Video Clip
(Real Media)

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