Kemper Arena sits empty.
Once the home to the Kansas City Blades — AAA-affiliate of the San Jose Sharks and, for a short time, the Vancouver Canucks. The arena sits in the West Bottoms with virtually zero events. Oh sure, there is a corporate meeting here and there, but, for the most part, no one from the general public has set foot inside Kemper Arena in more than a year.
I try to post things here that are, mostly, reality. Like the fact that KC has never had a potential owner for an NHL franchise or that the owners of Ice Midwest never intended to bring it back as a hockey facility. Given what eventually happened with Ice Midwest, I think my track record is pretty good.
Here are my thoughts on Kemper Arena:
1.) AEG shouldn’t be running it. They have no motivation to schedule events for the facility.
2.) The plan to, for the second time, redesign the facility to make it smaller seems like a good idea. It seems costly, but Kemper is far too big for what it may/will be used for.
Now, what to do with it.
First, move the the rodeo back to Kemper.
Then….what if Kemper Arena, and the surrounding parking lots, became a show-piece recreational facility for the city?
Convert some of the parking lots to soccer/lacrosse/football/rugby fields. Do something similar to the Overland Park soccer complex. There are simply never enough fields for the soccer/lacrosse/football community. Maybe even a BMX track. Make it Disney Wide World of Sports for the Midwest.
Put the ice down inside Kemper Arena from December to May. Allow local youth and adult hockey teams to schedule games and practices at the facility. Put down curling circles and open it up to the figure skating community. I guarantee the ice time would be gobbled up in a hurry. Hale Arena also has pipes in the floor. Both buildings could have ice sheets, if needed.
From May until the American Royal, the ice can be taken back down and the rink area, plus Hale Arena, could be used as a basketball/volleyball/futsal facility. Heck, in July, Okun Fieldhouse hosts one of the best AAU basketball tournaments in the country. OKUN?!?! Ever been in Okun? Surely the city could convert Kemper and Hale into something better than that for at least part of the year.
Get someone from the city (or, I guess it could be a private entity) to promote Kemper Arena and the surrounding area as a place to hold regional athletic events. These things draw hundreds of thousands of people. Recently, Indianapolis held a regional qualifying volleyball tournament — 1,000 teams, 10 girls per team, families, coaches, athletic equipment suppliers = at least 25,000 – 30,000 people. And, that’s just one weekend. You think this short-sighted plan to put in a BBQ Hall of Fame would even draw 30,000 visitors in an entire year. Ask the Jazz/Baseball museum.
It’s great that the Royal and the barbeque draw so many people to Kansas City. But, why is everyone associated with Kemper Arena satisfied with just one big event per year? What would draw more traffic?
(of course, my far-fetched idea is that UMKC would have an NCAA D-1 hockey program, similar to what their conference rival UN-Omaha did, and play at Kemper — never going to happen.)