KC, Bank Fight For Sprint Ground

Kansas City, Mo., and UMB Bank are headed to court over a parcel of land where the new Sprint Center is supposed to be built. The dispute involves a corner of the six-acre site of the new arena.

UMB Financial Corp. owns a drive-up bank branch on the planned site of the $250 million, 18,500- to 20,000-seat facility. The city offered UMB almost $2.9 million for the section that includes the bank branch, according to The Kansas City Star. Even though Jackson County appraised the properties at around $1.2 million, the bank said the city’s offer was not enough.

UMB president Mariner Kemper told the paper the location had some of the highest traffic of any of the branches, but would not elaborate on what he thought the property was worth. According to Kemper, the bank expected to reach a deal voluntarily with the city by January 10th – a deadline KC had imposed for the bank to accept the offer.

A letter sent to UMB said if the bank did not respond to the offer by January 17th, KC would begin eminent domain proceedings, the paper said. Kemper claimed the city and the bank made a verbal agreement to extend the deadline.

The city, in the meantime, allegedly declined a counteroffer and decided to pursue condemnation litigation in order to stay on schedule with the project.

“I’d love to avoid it,” Kemper told the Star. “Who wants to go through condemnation? We see great value to that location for our business and we’re responding in a like manner.”

Both sides told the paper they regretted a voluntarily deal could not be reached.

The Sprint Center will replace the 32-year-old Kemper Arena (named after the family of the UMB prexy) as the city’s marquee venue. It is still not known what KC plans to do with the latter once Sprint opens around spring 2007.