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Kemper Arena
Kemper Arena

  Venue Particulars  
Address 1800 Genessee
Kansas City, MO 64102
Phone (816) 513-4000
Official Website
Seating Weather
Satellite View
  Ballparks Virtual Mall  
Hotels, Dining & Deals in Kansas City

  The Facility  
Groundbreaking July 17, 1972
Opened 1974
City of Kansas City
Cost of Construction $23 Million
Arena Architects Helmut Jahn
Capacity 17,500
Luxury Suites Unknown
Club Seats Unknown
  Other Facts  
Tenants None
Former Tenants Kansas City Kings
(NBA) (1974-1985)
Kansas City Scouts
(NHL) (1974-1976)
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
Population Base 2,500,000
On Site Parking 4,000
Nearest Airport Kansas City International Airport (MCI)

Sources: Mediaventures

Kemper Memorial Arena
Kansas City, Missouri
Helmut Jahn, Architect


Use: Multipurpose Indoor Arena- seating for 16,000+; hockey, basketball, track, boxing, music and a variety of other uses

Kemper Memorial Arena, located in Kansas City, Missouri and designed by architect Helmut Jahn, is a steel space frame structure that established Jahn as an adventurous designer.

Physical Description

Dimensions: 324 feet wide by 400 feet long

Designed for flexibility, the arena seats up to 18,000 people. The two tiers of seating are part of a concrete substructure. The metal walls and roof, suspended from giant trusses, form the superstructure. The two elements are independent. The three exterior trusses that give the 325 x 424 foot interior a column-free enclosure are made of standard tube varying between 30 and 48 inches in diameter and 3/8 to 1 1/4 inches thick. These tubes are bolted together with internal tube stiffeners. the trusses are 27 feet deep and set 153 feet on center. The substructure takes no vertical loads from the roof or exterior walls. Loads from the trusses are transferred to steel hanger angles out from the building, leading to pin connections that sit on concrete piles driven 60 feet into the earth.

The structure of the Kemper Arena was designed for maximum efficiency. The main structural pieces are three large triangular space frame trusses which span the entire 324 foot width of the building and provide support for the ceiling suspended from them. The three dimensional triangular configuration of these trusses provides internal stiffness and wind resistance for the arena. These exterior trusses are located at 153 feet on center and are made up of steel tubes chosen by the architect and engineers since the circular cross section would provide maximum buckling resistance with minimal material. The circular shape also has less wind resistance and less perimeter area- which meant less maintenance and dcreased ice formation than wide flange or box shaped trusses. The circular shape also expressed the three dimensional character of space trusses very well. the joint details were developed to ease the fabrication and construction processes and therefore the amount of field welding was minimal. Unique bolted connections with internal tube stiffeners were developed and verified witha structural model test. The structural system weighs 23.5 psf and costs about $8.22/square foot.

Building Process

Materials and Construction: reinforced concrete, pre stressed and precast concrete, subsystems of steel, steel decking
Building Envelope: steel clad paneling

Structural Descripton/Aspects

If we were to stand on the roof of Kemper Arena, our weight would be transferred via the secondary trusses on the interior (used to hold up the whold roof) and then transferred to the three primary space frame structures on the the exterior. The three exterior trusses are the only members which transfer the roof weight to the ground. Instead of the weight being transfered to the ground by the walls, the weight is being supported by the main exterior structures. The system is much like three bridges, but instead of holding up cars and loads above their surface, they are used to support the roof weight beneath them.

Each truss member has only four contact points with the ground via pin connections. Each is a triangular structural member but instead of siz members touching the ground only four are needed due to the crossbracing from the triangle.

The walls of Kemper Memorial Arena are self supporting and consist of reinforced concrete which also supports the spectator seating down through their own foundations. From the photo it is evident that at no point do the walls touch the space frame which supports the roof.

Concerning the horizontal and lateral loading:
Since there are two different structural systems in use, it is necessary to distinguish between the two systems. The first system is that of the walls of the arena which resist lateral loads with their weight and because at ground level they are buried in an earth berm which provides for added stability. These walls are connected internally to the reinforced concrete seating structures which by nature of their weight and strungth add to the ability of the exteriour walls to resist lateral loads.

The second structural system, which is actually the primary structural system, is the set of three exterior trusses. These trusses resist lateral loads due to their rigid configuration. The three trusses achieve internal stiffness and wind resistance from their diagonal bracing with three inch rods on the bottom chords. The three dimensional configuration also helps achieve stiffness and wind resistance.

The circular cross section of the tube naturally provides maximum buckling resistance with minimal use of materials. Also the circular shape has minimal wind resistance and less perimeter area which means less maintenance and painting area. The main loads that this building has to resist due to its loacation and use are wind loads, snow loads, dynamic loads from people and other dynamic loads from various uses of the facility.

a + u 1986 June, extra edition Helmut Jahn. a + u publishing Co, Yoshio Yoshida, publisher. Toshio Nakamura, editor. 1986.

Source:Kaori Abiko and Jesse Emory
ARCH 461/561 Spring 1995

Directions to Kemper Arena

From North (Gladstone, Liberty, North Kansas City, St. Joseph) I-29 or I-35 South to downtown Continue on I-35 South, Take 12th Street exit. Turn right at light (down 12th Street viaduct). Turn left onto Genessee (2nd street past Total station)

From East (Blue Springs, Independence, Raytown, St. Louis) I-70 West to I-670 West. Take Genessee / Wyoming exit. Turn left at second stop sign onto Genessee

From South (Lenexa, Olathe, Overland Park, Wichita) I-35 North to I-670 West. Take Genessee / Wyoming exit. Turn left at second stop sign onto Genessee

From West (Kansas City KS, Lawrence, Topeka) I-70 East to I-670 East. Take Genessee / Wyoming exit. Turn right at stop sign onto Genessee.

November 4, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures

The IHL Kansas City Blades, unhappy with their earnings at Kemper Arena, are considering a move to Oklahoma City. Owner Dan DeVos has confirmed that he has talked with Oklahoma City officials about hosting the team.

Oklahoma City now hosts the UHL Blazers at the 27-year-old Myriad Arena. The Kansas City Star reports that some local investors have been talking with the Blazers about a possible move to Kansas City, meaning the two teams would swap cities. The Blazers are leading the league in attendance. A new 18,500-seat arena is also scheduled to open in Oklahoma City in 2001.

The Blades' lease expires in May and the team must decide by Feb. 1 if it will renew. The team has reportedly been losing money in Kansas City since DeVos purchased it in 1996.

On January 18, 2000 wrote: I have some information for you to add to your website. The Kings were known as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings during the mid 70's. They played approximately 10-12 home games each year in the Omaha Civic Auditorium until dropping the Omaha portion of their name and playing all games in Kemper Arena before eventually moving to Sacramento. The number of regular season home games played in Omaha varied slightly each year, but ten games is a close estimate. The Omaha Civic Auditorium is still in use -- it is the home of the Creighton Bluejays, who made their tenth trip to the NCAA basketball tournament last season (1999). The arena was built in the mid 1950s -- I believe Creighton began playing their games there in 1958. It seats 9,377 for basketball, with the largest recorded crowd being 11,214 for a game between Creighton and New Mexico State on 1/29/70. I do not know the attendance figures for the Kings games, but I would imagine the Kings media department would have this information. The arena has also hosted NCAA tournament regional games in the past. It is located in downtown Omaha. If you would desire other information such as photographs, I would recommend contacting the Creighton University Sports Information Department -- Assistant AD Kevin Sarver would be the person to talk to. Phone #: 402-280-5810. E-mail: The Omaha World-Herald would be another source of information -- phone #: 402-444-1000. Hope this information is useful for your website. I really enjoy spending time going through the different stadiums and arenas. It is the most complete and accurate source of information available that I have seen. I work as a statistician and spotter in the sports television industry, mainly for ESPN, and have used your site as a source of information many times in preparation for games. I hope the info I've provided is useful -- look forward to seeing the "Civic" in the "past arenas" site at some point. (In Omaha, the arena is usually referred to simply as "the civic"). Thank you, and keep up the good work.

April 9, 2009
Copyright 2009 MediaVentures

Kansas City, Mo. - Kansas City officials may ask for proposals from private firms interested in taking over management of Kemper Arena along with responsibility for capital costs. The city would continue to fund payments on $16 million in debt on the venue and another $13 million on a parking structure.

The deal must also continue the city's lease with the American Royal Association which runs through 2045.

The venue is now operated by the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which also manages the new Sprint Center arena. While city officials say they are pleased with the company's performance, they say the company has not been able to eliminate the need for a city subsidy.

July 14, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

The American Royal Rodeo will move from Kemper Arena to downtown Kansas City this October, the American Royal Association told the Kansas City Star. The association said it will hold its 2011 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Gold Tour Rodeo on Oct. 27-29 at the Sprint Center.

July 21, 2011
Copyright 2011 MediaVentures

Kansas City, Mo. - With the announcement that the American Royal Rodeo is moving out of Kemper Arena, its long-time home, and with few new events coming in, the Kansas City Star asks if it is time to shut Kemper down? No, say city officials and others, although they all concede the challenges ahead.

Instead, they're looking at several options, including finding ways to perhaps turn Kemper into something that isn't even an arena an outdoor amphitheater, perhaps.

For now, the financial situation isn't desperate, because revenues from the new Sprint Center cover Kemper's costs, Oscar McGaskey, Kansas City's director of convention and entertainment centers, told the Star.

It cost the city about $1 million to operate Kemper Arena this year, which includes utilities, maintenance, staffing and the management fee, city budget officials told the newspaper. Revenue going to the city from the arena last year totaled about $253,000.

"It is costing more to operate it than the revenues coming in," McGaskey said. "Revenues have been declining since Sprint Center opened in October 2007." This year, 23 events are planned for Kemper, including radio show host Dave Ramsey, a tractor pull and a Jehovah's Witnesses convention, but that continues a downhill slide.

In 2007, the arena hosted 39 events and in 2006, 54 events.

The Star said it's not likely that the building will be razed, at least for a while.

A 50-year contract with the American Royal is one big reason.

That contract will not expire until 2045. Under the contract, the city must reserve 20 days a year for Royal events at Kemper.

The American Royal has only three events planned at Kemper this year, although two of them run over multiple days. Of the events, two could probably relocate to Sprint or the American Royal facilities without much trouble, American Royal President Bob Petersen told the newspaper.

He said the third, a saddlebred horse show - the third largest American Royal earner in gross revenue - would probably leave Kansas City if Kemper was not available.

"Kemper is useful and important to us," Petersen said.

Moving the rodeo made sense, though, because it only sold 3,000 to 4,000 tickets at Kemper and is expected to sell 12,000 at the Sprint Center.

McGaskey said there have been no discussions between the city and the American Royal about renegotiating the current contract.

In addition to the contract, McGaskey said the city still owes $10 million in debt on Kemper, which will cost taxpayers $2.2 million each year until it is paid off in 2016.

The future of Kemper Arena could take several paths, ranging from demolition to repurposing. Only one scenario might keep Kemper as an arena, City Councilman Ed Ford told the Star.

"The only way Kemper could remain viable is if we could get an NHL or NBA team at Sprint that would open up events for Kemper," he said.

But the city and AEG, the company that manages both Kemper and the Sprint Center, are unable to say how realistic that possibility is.

In a more likely scenario, Kemper would still hang around, just not as an arena, Ford and others say.

"I think it's been apparent for some time that we don't need two competing arenas in the city," Ford said.

Alternate uses could include a skating rink, indoor soccer facility, megachurch or outdoor amphitheater. All of those are just blue-sky ideas at this point, though.

Rochester Royals / Cincinnati Royals /
Kansas City Kings-Omaha Kings / Sacramento Kings

Edgerton Park
Sports Arena

Edgerton Park Sports Arena
Rochester War

Rochester War Memorial


Cincinnati Gardens


Municipal Auditorium

Civic Auditorium

Omaha Civic Auditorium


Kemper Arena

Arena I

ARCO Arena I

Sleep Train

Sleep Train Arena

Golden 1

Golden 1 Center

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