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Higher Cost Estimates Pause UMKC Arena Proposal at 51st and Brookside

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2 minute read

By Kevin Collison

UMKC’s proposal for a 5,000-seat arena at a campus site by the south terminus of the Main Street streetcar extension has been paused until spring because of higher than anticipated costs.

Officials said responses came in higher than expected based on the specifications in a request for proposals (RFP) issued last spring and higher than anticipated project costs, according to a statement by UMKC.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City RFP called for an arena with 4,000- 5,000 seats; two practice courts; a 7,000 square-foot conditioning facility; locker rooms; team store, office space and 6,000 square feet for hospitality and events.

Sean Reeder, vice chancellor of Finance and Administration, said the university isn’t tabling the project. It is pausing the development process to revise the parameters for the proposed development, according to the release.

UMKC is seeking a development proposal for parcels formerly occupied by the Oak Park Apartments and a small retail strip on 51st Street. (Map from UMKC RFP)

UMKC had asked developers to submit proposals for a project that, while the university would not provide financial help to build, would offer a lease on five acres of land it owns near the planned streetcar stop at 51st and Brookside.

In its RFP, the university emphasized it would not provide money or issue a bond for the project, but said developers would be welcome to seek tax incentives and other financial assistance from governments.

Based on current specifications, an analysis of the proposals showed that the proposed private development included in the plans wouldn’t generate enough revenue to cover project costs, Reeder said.

This year has seen a significant slowdown in building activity in Kansas City as developers struggle to make deals work financially because of higher interest rates and construction costs.

UMKC is conducting a feasibility study for the proposed arena and will re-evaluate the opportunity for private development and non-university uses of the available land given current and anticipated market conditions, according to the release.

The proposed arena would be the new home of the UMKC men’s and women’s basketball team and women’s volleyball team. The teams currently plays at the Swinney Center on campus. (Photo from UMKC RFP)

Upon completion of the analysis, the university will re-engage the RFP process with the responding firms this coming spring.

“We still believe the project can be feasible with revised parameters,” Reeder said in a statement.

The arena proposal, first mentioned by UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agawal in April, represents a major shift from an earlier redevelopment proposal suggested for the site.

A previous UMKC master plan indicated the location was reserved for replacement housing for the 500-student Oak Park Apartments which were demolished in 2018 because of mold and water damage.

The proposed arena would serve UMKC’s Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball teams and women’s volleyball team.

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