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City council eyeing renovations to Civic Arena

A $25 million wish list of work has been created that supporters say would allow the Civic Arena to draw bigger and better events.

Posted: Feb 17, 2021 11:17 PM
Updated: Feb 18, 2021 10:36 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- Many say that a renovation to St. Joseph's Civic Arena is long overdue. 

Built in 1979, still today there is much of the original infrastructure that was originally installed in the building more than 40 years ago. Staff say it's definitely showing its age.

"We have plumbing failures, drainage issues, the electrical system is 41 years old. The lighting is dated," said Chuck Kempf, director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, which operates the building.

St. Joseph's city council is being asked to find money to bring the civic up-to-date. They took a tour to see first-hand some of the issues it's facing.

The building has a supporter in council member Russell Moore

"It is one of our showcase features in this city. It would be a shame to see any added disrepair," he said.

If renovations are made, they must be done quickly. The NCAA Division II Elite 8 basketball championships are scheduled to be played in the Civic in just two years.

"We just need to do it," Moore said, referring to renovations. "NCAA, that's a big deal. I think people need to understand we need to pony up the money for this."

The price tag is the sticking point for many. Staff have put a list together of things that need to be done. To make the court "NCAA-basketball ready," staff say it would cost about $1 million. However, they also point to needed infrastructural repairs like electrical, plumbing and the sound system to name a few and when guest amenities are added in the total cost nears $25 million.

Staff say the money would be well spent. They say the building is occupied at least once per week around 40 weeks of the year.

"You can have a trade show, two days later you can have a basketball game. Three days after that you can have a rodeo," Kempf said.

Moore says he thinks city leaders today need to use the same vision those did years ago when the Civic was first built.

"When the citizens invested the money to build this, they knew what they were doing 40 years ago. I think we need to keep it going and pump some life back into it," he said.

During the tour, possible funding mechanisms were discussed some, but not in detail.

On Wednesday, KQ2 News will look more at the possible benefits of a renovated Civic Arena and how some say it could draw bigger and better events to the city.

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