|Location||1800 Genessee, Kansas City, MO 64102|
|Owner||City of Kansas City (MO)|
|Operator||Anschutz Entertainment Group|
|Surface||Artificial turf, ice, hardwood|
|Broke ground||July 17, 1972|
|Construction cost||$23 million|
|Kansas City Scouts (NHL) (1974–1976)
Kansas City Kings (NBA) (1974–1985)
Kansas City Blues (CHL) (1976–1977)
Kansas City Comets (MSL) (1981–1991)
Kansas City Blades (IHL) (1990–2001)
Kansas City Attack/Comets (NPSL/MISL) (1992–2005)
Kansas City Explorers (WTT) (1993–2001)
Kansas City Knights (ABA) (2000–2002)
Kansas City Outlaws (UHL) (2004–2005)
Kansas City Brigade (AFL) (2006–2007)
1988 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
Kemper Arena American Royal Center is a 19,500 seat indoor arena in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, that has hosted NCAA Final Four basketball games, professional basketball and hockey teams, the 1976 Republican National Convention, a 1976 Paul McCartney & Wings concert, and is the ongoing host of the American Royal livestock show. It was also in this arena that wrestling superstar Owen Hart accidentally died.
It is named for R. Crosby Kemper Sr., a member of the powerful Kemper financial clan and who donated $3.2 million from his estate for the arena.
- 1 History
- 2 American Royal
- 3 Concerts
- 4 Facilities
- 5 References
Helmut Jahn's first major project rises from the stockyards
Kemper Arena was built in 18 months in 1973–74 on the site of the former Kansas City Stockyards just west of downtown in the West Bottoms to replace the 8,000-seat Municipal Auditorium to play host to the city's professional basketball and hockey teams.
The arena was the first major project of German architect Helmut Jahn who was to go on to become an important architect of his era.
The building was revolutionary in its simplicity and the fact it did not have interior columns obstructing views. Its roof is suspended by exterior steel trusses. The nearly windowless structure contrasts to Jahn's later signature style of providing wide open glass enclosed spaces. Kemper's exterior skeleton style was to be used extensively throughout Jahn's other projects.
The building cost $22 million and is owned by the city of Kansas City, Missouri. Financing came from seven sources:
- $5.6 million dollars from general obligation bonds
- $3.2 million dollars donated by R. Crosby Kemper Sr.
- $575,000 dollars from bond interest
- $1.5 million dollars donated by the American Royal Association
- Land provided by the Kansas City Stockyards Company
- $10 million dollars from revenue bonds in conjunction with the Jackson County Sports Authority
- $2 million dollars in federal grants for street work
Glory days in the 1970s
The arena won architectural awards in the 1970s and had four very prominent tenants:
- 1974-1976 - Kansas City Scouts of the NHL
- 1974-1985 - Kansas City Kings of the NBA
- 1976 Republican National Convention (where Gerald Ford defeated Ronald Reagan for the nomination)
- Paul McCartney & Wings concert held on May 29, 1976, as part of the Wings Over The World tour.
- Queen concert held on December 8, 1978, as part of their Jazz Tour.
1979 roof collapse
On June 4, 1979 at 6:45 p.m., a major storm with 70 mph (110 km/h) winds and heavy rains caused a portion of Kemper Arena's roof to collapse. Since the Arena was not in use at the time, no one was injured.
The collapse—three years after the hall had hosted the 1976 Republican National Convention -- along with another Kansas City structural failure -- the 1981 Hyatt Regency walkway collapse -- shocked the city and the architecture world.
The American Institute of Architects had given the building an "Honor" award in 1976 and thousands of its members were at its annual national conference there less than 24 hours before the 1979 collapse. Further, the collapse coupled with the January 18, 1978, collapse of the Hartford Civic Center from heavy snow in the early morning hours just after a University of Connecticut basketball game prompted architects to seriously reconsider computer models used to determine the safety of arenas.
The arena was one of the first major projects by influential architect Helmut Jahn who was to take over the Murphy/Jahn firm founded by Charles Murphy. Steel trusses that hung from three huge portals supported the reinforced concrete roof. Design elements had called for compensating for winds that caused the roof to swing like a pendulum. The exterior skeleton design had been considered revolutionary in its simplicity (it was built in 18 months).
Two major factors came together on June 4, to cause the collapse.
First, the roof had been designed to gradually release rainwater as the sewers in the West Bottoms could not adequately handle the rapid runoff because of the nearby confluence of the Missouri River and Kansas River. This caused the downpour to "pond" (where water fills in as the roof sagged) adding to the weight.
Second, there had been a miscalculation on the strength of the bolts on the hangers when subjected to the 70 mph (110 km/h) winds while supporting the additional rainwater weight as the roof swung back and forth. Once one of the bolts gave way there was a cascading failure on the south side of the roof. Although the bolts were enormous, the media was to make much of the fact that "one broken bolt caused the collapse."
Approximately one acre, or 200 ft (61 m) × 215 ft (66 m) of roof collapsed. The air pressure, increased by the rapidly falling roof caused some of the walls to blow out. However, the portals remained undamaged..."
An investigation was conducted, and the issues were addressed and the arena reopened within a year.
College basketball mecca
In the 1980s the arena became famed for its basketball tournaments including:
- NCAA Men's Final Four in 1988
- NCAA Women's Final Four in 1998
- NCAA Regionals - in 1983, 1986, 1992, 1995, and 1996
- NCAA First and Second Rounds - in 1997, 2001, and 2004
- NAIA basketball tournament from 1975 - 1993
- Big Eight Conference Men's Basketball Tournament from 1977 to 1996
- Big 12 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament from 1997–2002 and 2005
- Mid-Continent Conference men’s basketball tournament in 2003 and 2004
Other professional sports
- 1981–1991 - Kansas City Comets of the original Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL)
- 1992–2005 - Kansas City Attack (later renamed the Kansas City Comets) of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) and current Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL)
- 1990–2001 - Kansas City Blades, International Hockey League (1945–2001) (IHL)
- 2000–2005 - Kansas City Knights of the American Basketball Association (21st century) (ABA)
- 2004–2005 - Kansas City Outlaws of the United Hockey League (UHL)
- 2006–2007 - Kansas City Brigade of the Arena Football League
- 2007 - National Professional Paintball League (NPPL) makes its 4th stop of the 2007 season at Kemper. The event will be the first NPPL event held with a field indoors.
1999 death of WWF superstar Owen Hart and aftermath
On May 23, 1999, Kemper Arena hosted the WWF (now WWE) pay-per-view Over the Edge, where WWF superstar Owen Hart fell to his death from the rafters after attempting to descend while in his super hero gimmick of The Blue Blazer. A few months later, Owen's brother, Bret Hart and longtime friend Chris Benoit had a tribute match in honor of Owen at Kemper Arena on WCW Monday Nitro. In this very arena on August 26, 1999, WWE debuted their new show called SmackDown! on UPN.
In the wake of this event, the stadium has become known as a reportedly haunted location with many believing Owen Hart's Ghost haunts the upper rafters.
1990s additions and renovations
Additional American Royal livestock buildings were built adjoining Kemper in 1991–92 at a cost of $33.4 million (the City of Kansas City built the original American Royal Arena in 1922 nearby for about $650,000)
In 1997, a $23 million expansion made significant changes to the original Jahn design—most notably a glass enclosed east lobby. Other changes include: 2,000 more seats, upgraded lower-level seating, four restrooms, and a handicapped entrance to the arena.
The American Royal Association has hosted livestock events at Kemper since it was first constructed. The Royal also helped pay for the original building. Its office is located in the building along with the American Royal Museum. The American Royal Association is home to the American Royal Horse Show, Livestock Show, and Rodeo and which hosts a six-week festival each October to November.
- The Who - December 1, 1975; April 26, 1980
- Olivia Newton-John - March 3, 1976
- Elvis Presley - April 21, 1976; June 18, 1977
- Paul McCartney - May 29, 1976
- Genesis - January 29, 1984; January 21, 1987
- Queen - December 8, 1978; August 28, 1982
- Phil Collins - June 15, 1985; April 12, 1997
- Aerosmith - April 28, 1976; June 28, 1978
- Kiss - February 9, 1977; November 27, 1977; July 3, 1996
- Pink Floyd - June 21, 1977
- Bob Dylan - November 3, 1978
- Diana Ross - May 12, 1979
- The Jacksons - September 8, 1981
- Rolling Stones - December 14–15, 1981; April 6, 1999
- Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band - November 19, 1984
- Tina Turner - October 26, 1985; October 27, 1987; June 22, 1993; May 17, 2000
- Motley Crue - July 11, 1987; March 15, 2005
- Michael Jackson - February 23–24, 1988
- Janet Jackson - April 11, 1990; August 1, 1998; July 14, 2001
- Dire Straits - February 16, 1992
- Alice in Chains - July 3, 1996
- Metallica - November 30, 1991; May 11, 2004
- Garth Brooks - May 2–5, 1996
- 'N Sync - April 1, 1999; June 22, 2000
- Backstreet Boys - November 18, 1999; August 27, 2001
- AC/DC - September 2, 2000
- U2 - November 27, 2001
- Eric Clapton - April 2, 2007
- Cher - July 16, 2002; September 22, 2003
- Hilary Duff - August 11, 2005
- Christina Aguilera with Danity Kane and Pussycat Dolls - February 24, 2007
- Foo Fighters - July 19, 2008
- Jeff Dunham - December 27, 2008
- Red Hot Chili Peppers - May 5, 2003
- Deep Purple - February 13, 1985
The facilities are managed by AEG. Facilities in the complex include:
- Hale Arena – 5,000 seat capacity (17,000 sq ft.)
- Kemper Arena – 19,500 seat capacity
- The Governor’s Building – 96,000 sq ft (8,900 m2).
- Lower Level Exhibition Hall – 86,000 sq ft (8,000 m2).
- Upper Level Exhibition Hall – 86,000 sq ft (8,000 m2).
- Wagstaff Theatre – 450 seat capacity
- The American Royal Museum
- Scott Pavilion – permanent dirt floor animal warm up area
- West Bottoms Garage – 995 spaces
- Six Surface Parking Lots – approximately 4,500 spaces
|Home of the
Kansas City Kings
Sacramento Sports Arena
Miami Beach Convention Center
|Host of the
Republican National Convention
Joe Louis Arena
|NCAA Men's Division I
|Home of the
Kansas City Scouts
McNichols Sports Arena
|Home of the
Kansas City Brigade