Hy-Vee Arena

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Hy-Vee Arena
Exterior view of venue, 2022
Former namesKemper Arena (1974–2018)
Mosaic Arena (2017)
Address1800 Genessee St
Kansas City, Missouri, US
LocationWest Bottoms
OwnerFoutch Brothers LLC
  • 17,513 (1988–1997)
  • 19,500 (1997–2016)
  • 8,500 (2018–present)
Broke groundJuly 17, 1972 (1972-07-17)
OpenedSeptember 30, 1974 (1974-09-30)
Renovated1976, 1987, 1996, 2017–2018
Construction cost$23 million
($168 million in 2023 dollars[1])
ArchitectHelmut Jahn
Services engineerHNTB
General contractorJ. E. Dunn Construction Group
Former tenants: see the History section
Building details
General information
GroundbreakingSeptember 17, 2017 (2017-09-17)
OpenedOctober 5, 2018 (2018-10-05)
Renovation cost$39 million
Renovating team
Architect(s)Foutch Architecture and Development
Main contractorMcCownGordon Construction
R. Crosby Kemper Sr. Memorial Arena
Architectural styleModern
NRHP reference No.14000160
Added to NRHPSeptember 9, 2016

Hy-Vee Arena,[2] previously known as Kemper Arena, is an indoor arena located in Kansas City, Missouri. Prior to conversion to a youth sports and community gymnasium 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 Rufus 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.[3]



Kemper Arena, 2014, prior to its renovation. The exterior of the facility has remained unchanged, even after its renovation.

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 Rufus 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


The 1976 Republican National Convention. Left to right, the vice-presidential candidate, Kansas Senator Bob Dole, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, Former California Governor Ronald Reagan, President Gerald R. Ford, and Vice-President Nelson A. Rockefeller. First Lady Betty Ford is on the far right next to daughter Susan Ford.

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

1979 roof collapse[edit]

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.[5] Since the Arena was not in use at the time, no one was injured.

The American Institute of Architects had given the building an "Honor" award in 1976[6] and the AIA, coincidentally, was holding its annual national conference in Kansas City half a mile away at nearby Bartle Hall. The last event in the arena had been a Memorial Day concert by the Village People a week earlier.[7] Further, the collapse coupled with the 1978 collapse of the Hartford Civic Center under heavy snow 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 contributed to the collapse. First, the roof had been designed to gradually release rainwater to avoid overloading sewers. This caused water 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.

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, the issues were addressed, and the arena reopened within a year.

College basketball mecca[edit]

A ticket for the 1988 Men's NCAA Final Four

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 T-Mobile Center.

Other professional sports[edit]

Professional wrestling[edit]

The Kemper Arena hosted Professional wrestling from 1984 until 2008. Promotions such as Central States Wrestling, WWE, National Wrestling Alliance, Universal Wrestling Federation, and World Championship Wrestling all held events there.[8]

Notable live events[edit]

Death of Owen Hart[edit]

On May 23, 1999, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) hosted the Over the Edge pay-per-view event at Kemper Arena. During the event, Owen Hart, wrestling under his Blue Blazer gimmick, was 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 70 feet (21 m) into the ring and later died at nearby Truman Medical Center-Hospital Hill.[12][13] 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.[14] Criticism later arose over the WWF's decision to continue the show after the accident.[15] In court, his widow Martha, children, and parents sued the organization, contending that poor planning of the dangerous stunt caused Owen's death.[16] WWF settled the case out of court, paying US$18 million to his widow, children, and parents.[17] Due to the accident and controversy surrounding the event, the Over the Edge name was retired.[18] The event was also not released for home video viewing until the launch of the WWE Network in 2014, where an edited version of the show that displays a tribute to Hart at the beginning but otherwise removes any mention of his involvement was released.[19][20] In October 1999, 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.[21]

1990s additions and renovations[edit]

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.

Conversion to youth sports and community gym facility[edit]

In 2017–18, the arena underwent a $29 million renovation by Foutch Architecture and Development LLC to be converted into a youth sports facility.[22] The renovated arena features 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.[23] Each level also has 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.[24][25][26] On May 17, 2018, Midwestern grocery store chain Hy-Vee secured the naming rights, making the arena's official name Hy-Vee Arena.[27]

American Royal[edit]

The American Royal Association formerly hosted livestock events at Kemper starting when it was first constructed. The Royal also helped pay for the original building. Its offices were located in the building along with the American Royal Museum. The Royal moved to a new complex that includes Hale Arena.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  2. ^ "See for yourself: Hy-Vee Arena getting floors, retail spaces with weeks until opening". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  3. ^ "Kemper Arena". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  4. ^ "Elvis Presley Concert Setlists". setlist.fm.
  5. ^ Goldberger, Paul (June 6, 1979). "Kansas City Arena Loses Roof in Storm". The New York Times. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  6. ^ "AIA". www.aia.org. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  7. ^ "Storm Caves In Roof of Kemper; Damage Is Estimated at $1 Million", Kansas City Times, June 5, 1979, p. 1A; the coincidence gave rise to an urban legend that in an ironic twist, the architects' national convention was being held in a 13,000 seat arena "less than 24 hours before the 1979 collapse", see, e.g., The Undercover Economist Strikes Back : how to run - or ruin - an economy (Abacus, 1979)
  8. ^ Saalbach, Axel. "Wrestlingdata.com". wrestlingdata.com. Retrieved January 24, 2024.
  9. ^ "WrestlingClassics.com Message Board: Results: Kansas City, MO 7/7/84". wrestlingclassics.com. Retrieved January 24, 2024.
  10. ^ a b "Cagematch.net". Cagematch.net.
  11. ^ "JCP - 1988 Results". thehistoryofwwe.com. January 16, 2023. Retrieved January 24, 2024.
  12. ^ Markazi, Arash (March 26, 2006). "Bret Hart opens up Thoughts on Owen, McMahon, rough times and more". CNN Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on February 28, 2007. Retrieved November 27, 2008.
  13. ^ Powell, John. "Hart tragedy overshadows Taker's win". Slam! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  14. ^ Cole, Glenn. "With a heavy Hart, the show goes on". Slam! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ Hart, Martha (May 23, 2000). "Hart family marks tragic anniversary". Slam! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Archived from the original on January 1, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ Margolies, Dan (November 11, 2000). "Deal approved in WWF case". The Kansas City star. Robb & Robb LLC. Archived from the original on August 22, 2007. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  17. ^ "WWE Entertainment, Inc. Announces Settlement in Owen Hart Case". World Wrestling Entertainment Corporate. November 2, 2000. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  18. ^ "WWE (WWF) FAQ". WrestleView. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  19. ^ Martin, Adam (February 8, 2014). "WWE statement on Over The Edge PPV on WWE Network". WrestleView. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
  20. ^ "WWE Faces Difficult Decisions On Network Content". KDKA-TV. February 7, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  21. ^ "Monday Nitro – October 4, 1999: The Last Great Thing WCW Did". kbwrestlingreviews.com. February 25, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  22. ^ Collison, Kevin (February 2, 2017). "Kemper Arena Redevelopment Plan Wins Key Tax Incentives". KCUR. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  23. ^ Rodriguez, Lisa (February 16, 2017). "Kansas City To Sell Kemper Arena To Foutch Brothers For $1". KCUR. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  24. ^ Moxley, Elle (September 26, 2017). "Construction Begins To Transform Kemper Arena Into Mosaic, A Youth Sports Facility". Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  25. ^ Photo Update: $39M Kemper Arena renovation ahead of schedule and under budget Kansas City Business Journal (subscription required)
  26. ^ "Kemper Arena will not be named Mosaic Arena after all as Mosaic Life Care releases naming rights sponsorship". December 20, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "KC's historic Kemper Arena to become Hy-Vee Arena under new naming rights deal". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved May 17, 2018.

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by Home of the
Kansas City Kings

Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of the
Republican National Convention

Succeeded by
Preceded by NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball tournament
Finals Venue

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

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

Succeeded by

39°5′31″N 94°36′21″W / 39.09194°N 94.60583°W / 39.09194; -94.60583