Kansas City voters on Tuesday supported fee increases to fund an arena that city leaders say will help spark revitalization of the city’s downtown.
With 74 percent of the precincts reporting, 58 percent of the voters approved a proposal to increase hotel fees by up to $1.50 a day and car rental fees by up to $4 a day. Those fees would allow the city to issue $170 million in bonds to pay for the $225 million to $250 million arena.
Mayor Kay Barnes had led the fight for the arena, which was expected to seat 18,000 to 20,000 people, saying it would draw an estimated 8 million people from the region to the city. Supporters said the city needed to replace Kemper Arena to draw Big 12 Conference and NCAA events and other entertainment to downtown.
Opponents, funded almost exclusively by St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car, had argued that local residents would pay a disproportionate share of the fees. They also said the city offered a vague plan for the arena that left too many questions unanswered.
Anschutz Entertainment Group of Los Angeles has a nonbinding agreement with the city to invest $50 million and manage the arena for 35 years in exchange for part of the profits. It also will try to lure a professional hockey or basketball team to the city.
Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint Corp. will pay $2.5 million a year for naming rights; that would be reduced if no professional team relocates to Kansas City. And the National Association of Basketball Coaches will try to raise $10 million to build a Basketball Hall of Fame at the arena.