Foutch Brothers to convert Kemper

Kemper will offer schools a second option for sports space.

The+front+view+of+the+Kemper+Arena.+photo+by+Gabby+Ayala

The front view of the Kemper Arena. photo by Gabby Ayala

by Katie Donnellan and Gabby Ayala

Steve Foutch of Foutch Brothers, LLC announced May 18 at Kemper Arena plans to convert Mosaic Arena, formerly known as Kemper Arena, to a youth sports complex. The company will renovate the arena while preserving the facade of the building.

Foutch Brothers, LLC, plans to start construction on Kemper Arena January 2017. The renovation to a youth sports complex should be completed by January 2018.

Mosaic Healthcare offers health-care services in and around St. Joseph, Missouri and Kansas City Northland, and will be opening a facility inside of the arena and will also be the name on the front of the building. According to Steve Foutch of Foutch Brothers, LLC, this is a marketing boost for the health care company and follows the Kemper family’s wish of taking their name off the building.

The building currently has one main level with an arena floor that is able to convert from a basketball court to a circus arena. After construction, the building will have three levels to accommodate an expected 1,000 people on weekdays and 3,000 to 5,000 people each day of the weekend. According to Foutch, these extra levels increase the usable space by 200%. This extra space allows for versatility in the spectrum of sport and activity.

According to Foutch, the arena can be converted into spaces for different sports. The final product will include space to host 12 basketball courts or 24 volleyball courts. In addition to the courts, the facility will have a 350M indoor running track, fitness and strength training by specialty instructors, on-site specialty sports health clinic and an indoor pool that can be converted to a rowing tank.

This rowing tank will be a rowing shell placed inside an indoor pool. This accommodation will be available for the Kansas City Boat Club, located across the street, to use as well as people to swim in.

For STA, the Kemper Arena renovations will affect many students who play sports, including the rowing club, which currently has 12 members. Senior Claire McCann is one of these 12 and is also a member of the STA swim team, which currently practices at Longview Community College in Lee’s Summit. McCann feels that this space could benefit athletes due to its accommodations and location.

“Being able to use [the new rowing space] to simulate rowing would be great because there are periods of time we are taken off the river due to rain levels or weather,” McCann said. “The tank would be better simulation than [the ergs, our current simulation method] to practice technique.”

Beyond the benefits for the rowing team, McCann believes the space would help the swim team, too.
“Also, I think STA should look into using it for swimming because it is closer to school than Longview.” McCann said. “If rowing ever became a school sport, the two teams could practice near each other.”

According to Foutch, the arena is a private, “rental” business. Foutch Brothers have already been contacted by schools to rent the facilities. Schools will have the same ability to use the space as club sports teams.

“We will be larger and have more specific things that schools don’t have or can’t afford to own,” Foutch said.
According to STA athletic director Mark Hough, the pool, indoor track and rowing tank are all accommodations STA does not have. The extra space could allow all levels of a sport to practice at the same time. This could let coaches handle the tryout process easier and allow teams to exchange players. If the costs are reasonable, Hough is open to the idea of finding a new practice space.

“We are always looking to consider any good options,” Hough said.

The arena will also have advantages for club sports, including team rooms to rent during tournaments. These rooms will be in the old Kemper suites and will have space for teams to relax, eat, discuss game plans and store their gear.
As far as scheduling accommodations, tournaments and leagues will reserve far in advance. Then, the open spots in weekday nights will be filled with team practices and adult recreation.

“The building is open during the day like a YMCA,” Foutch said.

In addition to the space for sports, 12,000 square feet on level 300 will be leasable for retail. This retail space will be located near the entry of the building and will offer opportunity for a specified sports minded audience. The retail space also adds to the current retail and restaurant space in the neighborhood.

“This is a catalyst for other projects to get started, and likewise we will be happy to have more neighbors to be regular users of the facility,” Foutch wrote, “Our daily continuous traffic is a key factor in developing retail.”
The Kemper Arena is one of the current West Bottoms’ developments, along with lofts and new restaurants. The arena renovation could add 500,000 to a million visitors per day.