Kemper Arena

Kansas City
Jackson County

In 1972 the City of Kansas City selected the Chicago architecture firm of C.F. Murphy Associates to design a state of the art arena on the groups of the Kansas City Stockyards. With this charge, Helmut Jahn, their Director of Planning and Design developed an innovative solution to suspend the roof from monumental steel trusses located on the outside of the building, eliminating the need for interior columns. Opened in 1974, the 19,000 seat Kemper Auditorium was one of the first examples of high-tech architecture, known as Structural Expressionism, to be constructed in North America.  The building stands today as a seminal example of this style. In 2007, in an effort to attract a professional hockey and basketball team, Kansas City opened the Sprint Center. The new arena has since replaced Kemper as the City’s premier event venue. Unfortunately, the building is quickly falling into disrepair from neglect. In October 2011, a local plan was revealed to replace the Arena with a new 5,000 seat agricultural events center for the American Royal Farm Show. It is hoped that this listing will inspire greater recognition of Kemper Arena’s importance architecturally, as well as the great potential the Auditorium presents as a repurposed community asset.

Listed in 2012 and as a watched property in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Update: Thanks to the hard work of Rosin Preservation, the Kemper Arena was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016

Update: The Kemper Arena has been saved! It was the recipient of a Preserve Missouri Award in 2018. It now runs as an events and sports complex under the name “HyVee Arena”

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