By Kevin Collison
The developer transforming the former Kemper Arena into a massive amateur sports complex shrugged of the loss of his naming rights partner Wednesday, saying it won’t interfere with completing the $39 million endeavor.
“We knew ahead of time that Mosaic (Life Care) was going to make an announcement, but we couldn’t say anything,” Steve Foutch, CEO of Foutch Brothers, said. “We already have other people calling, and naming rights isn’t an issue right now.
“We have other people lining up who might be bigger and better.”
St. Joseph-based Mosaic announced earlier in the day it was “releasing” the naming rights sponsorship for the Kemper project in light of its substantial departure from the metro Kansas City healthcare market.
Mosaic sold six of its eight Northland health clinics earlier this week to Saint Luke’s Health System.
“Now that Saint Luke’s has acquired the majority of our thriving Kansas City health clinics, it makes good financial sense for us to relinquish the naming rights to the arena,” Dr. Mark Laney, CEO of Mosaic, said in a statement.
Mosaic had planned to operate a health clinic at the revamped arena. The tie-in made marketing sense because the former Kemper, when it reopens, will make a huge shift from passive sports viewing palace to a hub of physical activity with sports leagues, running track, spas and other health-related uses.
Foutch declined to identify how much Mosaic had paid for the naming rights, but did say it was less than 10 percent of the project’s cost.
The developer used the opportunity of the Mosaic cancellation to show off progress to date on renovating the arena.
Work is about 25 percent complete, the major job so far being the construction of support columns and steel trusses required to install a second floor inside the arena.
The new level dividing the interior of the arena will create the floor space for all the new NCAA-caliber playing courts, with seating for 3,500 people in the lower bowl and 5,500 in the upper. There will be four courts on the lower level and eight on the second.
Two of the four 150-foot wide steel trusses that will support the upper floor have already been installed. Foutch said the base floor itself should be completed by early February. When completed, it will feature a hardwood finish and strong enough to support the biggest herd of bouncing ballplayers.
A five-lane, 350-meter track running around the perimeter of the upper bowl already has been completed.
Other amenities planned include a a food court with a beer garden featuring healthy offerings and craft beers; office space for an expected 40 small businesses and 400 daily office users; a fitness club run by a couple of Chiefs players and a golf simulator.
McCownGordon is the contractor and Exact Partners is the architect. Foutch said the work is ahead of schedule and under budget and the arena, whatever it’s future name, remains on track for an opening by third quarter of next year.
It’s first major event is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2018, the “Third Shot’s a Charm Pickelball Festival.”