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Former namesKemper Arena (1974–2018)
Mosaic Arena (2017)
AddressScript error
LocationWest Bottoms
OwnerFoutch Brothers LLC
CapacityScript error
Broke groundJuly 17, 1972 (1972-07-17)
OpenedSeptember 30, 1974 (1974-09-30)
Renovated1976, 1987, 1996, 2017–18
Construction cost$23 million
($121 million in 2018 dollars[1])
ArchitectHelmut Jahn
Services engineerHNTB
General contractorJ. E. Dunn Construction Group
Former tenants: see the History section
Future tenants:Script error
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Hy-Vee Arena
General information
GroundbreakingSeptember 17, 2017 (2017-09-17)
OpeningOctober 5, 2018 (2018-10-05)
Renovation cost$39 million
Renovating team
ArchitectFoutch Architecture and Development
Main contractorMcCownGordon Construction
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The Hy-Vee Arena,[1] previously known as Kemper Arena, is an indoor arena located in Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to conversion to a youth sports facility, Kemper Arena was previously a 19,500-seat professional sports arena. It has hosted NCAA Final Four basketball games, professional basketball and hockey teams, professional wrestling events, the 1976 Republican National Convention, concerts, and is the ongoing host of the American Royal livestock show.

It was originally 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. In 2016, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its revolutionary design by Helmut Jahn.[2]


Helmut Jahn's first major project rises from the stockyardsEdit

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 was previously owned by the city of Kansas City, Missouri. Financing came from seven sources:

  • $5.6 million from general obligation bonds
  • $3.2 million donated by R. Crosby Kemper Sr.
  • $575,000 from bond interest
  • $1.5 million donated by the American Royal Association
  • Land provided by the Kansas City Stockyards Company
  • $10 million from revenue bonds in conjunction with the Jackson County Sports Authority
  • $2 million in federal grants for street work

Glory days in the 1970sEdit

File:1976 Republican National Convention.jpg

The arena won architectural awards in the 1970s and had these very prominent tenants:

1979 roof collapseEdit

On June 4, 1979, at 6:45 p.m., a major storm with Script error winds and heavy rains caused a portion of Kemper Arena's roof to collapse.[1] 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[2] 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 Script error 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 Script error × Script error 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 meccaEdit

File:1988 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament - National Semifinals (ticket).jpg

In the 1980s the arena became famed for its basketball tournaments including:

The Kansas Jayhawks also played at least one men's basketball game a year in Kemper Arena as an outreach to its fanbase in Kansas City, the last such game being against the Toledo Rockets in the 2006–07 season; since then the Jayhawks have played one regular season game a year in the new Sprint Center.

Other professional sportsEdit

Death of Owen Hart and aftermathEdit

Script error On May 23, 1999, then-Kemper Arena hosted the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) pay-per-view Over the Edge. During the event, Owen Hart, wrestling under his Blue Blazer gimmick, was set to make a superhero-like ring entrance, which would have seen him descend from the arena rafters into the ring. He was, however, released prematurely when the harness line malfunctioned, and fell more than Script error into the ring and later died at nearby Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill.[1][2] After the incident, the event was halted for 15 minutes, until Vince McMahon and other WWF Corporate officials made the decision to continue the event.[3] Criticism later arose over the WWF's decision to continue the show after the accident.[4] Due to the accident and controversy surrounding the event, the Over the Edge name was retired.[5] A few months later, Owen's brother, Bret Hart and longtime Hart family friend Chris Benoit had a tribute match in honor of Owen at Kemper Arena on WCW Monday Nitro.[6]

1990s additions and renovationsEdit

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.

It is currently undergoing a $39 million renovation by Foutch Brothers LLC to be converted into a youth sports facility.[7] The renovated Kemper Arena will feature 12 mixed-use hardwood basketball courts, four on the lower level and eight on the new upper level, and a 350-meter indoor running track.[8] Each level also will have spaces for retail services and commercial office space. The renovated arena was previously set to be known as Mosaic Arena as a result of a naming rights sponsorship by Mosaic Life Care; however, Mosaic Life Care released its naming rights sponsorship in December 2017.[9][10][11] On May 17, 2018, Midwestern grocery store chain Hy-Vee secured the naming rights, making the arena's official name Hy-Vee Arena.[12]

American RoyalEdit

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 facilities in the complex, includes:

  • Hale Arena – 5,000 seat capacity (17,000 sq ft.)
  • Kemper Arena – 19,500 seat capacity
  • The Governor's Building – Script error.
  • Lower Level Exhibition Hall – Script error.
  • Upper Level Exhibition Hall – Script error.
  • Wagstaff Theater – 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

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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Events and tenants
Preceded by
Municipal Auditorium
Home of the
Kansas City Kings

Succeeded by
Sacramento Sports Arena
Preceded by
Miami Beach Convention Center
Host of the
Republican National Convention

Succeeded by
Joe Louis Arena
Preceded by
Louisiana Superdome
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

Succeeded by
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Kansas City Scouts

Succeeded by
McNichols Sports Arena
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Kansas City Brigade

Succeeded by
Sprint Center
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