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Transforming HyVee Arena: Revitalizing a Historic Sports Facility

In this episode, we explore the inspiring story behind the transformation of Hy-Vee Arena. Luke Wade, the founder, and CEO of Facility Ally, sits down with Chris Coffin, the general manager of Hy-Vee Arena, and Steve Foutch, the CEO, and founder of Foutch Brothers, to uncover the journey of revitalizing this iconic venue located in the heart of Kansas City. For more historical renovation stories, check out our episode on the revival of J. Rieger.

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Reimagining and Repurposing an Iconic Sports Facility

Hy-Vee Arena, originally known as Kemper Arena, faced the threat of demolition. However, Steve Foutch, with his architectural and financial expertise, saw the hidden potential in this historic building. Alongside Chris Coffin, the team embarked on a journey to reimagine and repurpose the space. Their innovative approach included adding multiple floors, removing retractable seating, and creating 12 basketball courts. The transformation of Hy-Vee Arena not only preserved its legacy but also opened doors to a multitude of events and activities for the community.

Covered in This Episode:

  • The Birth of a VR Bar
  • Facilitating Immersive VR Experiences
  • Building the Business Through Social Media
  • Enhancing Experience and Generating Revenue
  • Growing in the Down Times

Highlights and Key Moments:

  • "I bought it for a buck and then had to spend $10 million to have nothing left over."

  • "It's had three lives and I'm sure it's not done yet."

  • "You can never have enough janitors if there's going to be 10,000 people in a building."

  • "The secret sauce: short ticket times and seamless service."

Demarcating a Rich History

In its storied past, Hy-Vee Arena, formerly known as Kemper Arena, played host to music legends like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. This iconic venue's history is rich, marked not only by legendary musical performances but also by exhilarating sporting events. Its walls hold echoes of Arena Football glory. The incredible history behind the arena serves as a testament to its significance in the entertainment world. The transformation from a cherished historical landmark to a multi-purpose facility was not only a large undertaking in the physical, but preserving the legendary status of the arena was paramount.

Bringing Life into Old Spaces

Operating a multi-purpose facility with the capacity to host 10,000 visitors simultaneously is no small feat. The podcast delves into the behind-the-scenes complexities, revealing the art of making in-game adjustments to handle various events seamlessly. Steve and Chris discuss the importance of building strong relationships with event organizers, ensuring effective communication and quick problem-solving. The podcast sheds light on the intricate dance of logistics and coordination required to create a smooth, enjoyable experience for the arena's diverse clientele.

Serving the City

In the world of event management, food and beverage services are essential components that can make or break an experience. The podcast emphasizes the critical role of food and beverage management in ensuring that visitors are well served. It explores the challenge of balancing the needs of diverse demographics, from those attending sporting events to families looking for an array of food options. The secret sauce lies in maintaining short ticket times and seamless service, ensuring that visitors can enjoy their events without any unnecessary hassle.

Enhancing Experience and Generating Revenue

The future of HyVee Arena is nothing short of exciting. Situated in the up-and-coming West Bottoms of Kansas City, the arena is set to become part of a burgeoning commercial and residential community. The podcast provides a tantalizing glimpse of innovative concepts, including the prospect of ziplining from one state to another, making it a unique destination for thrill-seekers. The vision extends to turning the arena into an indoor-outdoor entertainment hub, catering to both local and visiting audiences, and offering an array of entertainment options.

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The story of Hy-Vee Arena serves as a reminder that with creativity, dedication, and collaboration, any facility can undergo a remarkable transformation. For more information, check out the HyVee Arena Case Study. If you find yourself in the Kansas City area, we encourage you to pay them a visit and witness firsthand the incredible changes that have taken place.

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to Facility Playbook and check out next week's episode on Streamlining Operations: Best Practices for Facility Management.  Don't forget to leave us a review and share this podcast with your colleagues and friends who may also find it valuable. Thank you again for tuning in! Until next time, take care and keep pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the world of facility management.

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