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University of Missouri Kansas City wants to build on-campus sports arena

May 16, 2023
The proposed 5,000 seat arena would replace a 1,500-seat venue that is one of the smallest in college basketball.

The University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) wants to build a 5,000-seat on-campus sports and events arena.

The Kansas City Star reports that the university has issued a request for proposal for a facility that would provide a home for the basketball and volleyball teams. It would be built on five acres on the west side of campus near the southern terminus of a streetcar line extension that is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

For the past five years, the Swinney Center on campus has served as the home facility for UMKC teams. Opened in 1941, the building ranks among the smallest in college basketball — and the smallest in the Summit League — with a seating capacity of 1,500.

The university asserts in a news release that the Swinney Center provides a quality environment for its athletes, but it lacks the modern amenities that athletes and fans have come to expect in a competitive spectator sports market.

Brandon Martin, UMKC's vice chancellor/director of athletics, says a new arena will enable the university to upgrade the student athlete experience and enhance recruiting.

From 1987, when UMKC became a Division I program, until 2008, its teams played most home games at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City, several miles north of campus.

Over the next several years, UMKC teams went back and forth between Swinney and Municipal, and occasionally played home games at other venues in Kansas City and Independence.

Price tags for arenas for Division I programs that have opened since 2020 or are scheduled to open this year include $40 million for the 3,000-seat Joan Perry Brock Center at Longwood University in Virginia; $51 million for the 3,500-seat Leo D. Mahoney Center for Fairfield University in Connecticut; and $130 million for 5,500-seat F&M Bank Arena at Austin Peay University in Tennessee. 

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