Memories of KC's Kemper Arena

From Ralph Hipp

Say goodbye to it, folks.  It's about time.  The Kemper Arena is Kansas City is about to be bulldozed.   Let's talk about its future first.

Board members say the plan is to level the arena and build a place with a smaller footprint on the land, which will actually provide much more space for horse shows and livestock arena presentations.  The American Royal is a non-profit group, so it would be Kansas City's horse and livestock universe that will benefit most from the new constuction.  The American Royal will have a complete new look.  The Kemper family can rebuild with as cash as they choose to contribute, that is their choice: but the family is also spearheading the fundraising drive to make the changes complete.

You know, when you drive by Kemper, you may say.. why is this old eyesore still here?  Downtown Kansas City is vastly improved now, with the Sprint Center, the Power and Light District, and the new Kauffman Performing Center for the Arts.  But when you see an old landmark disappear, you kinda get sentimental and think of the good things of having Kemper Arena around all those years.

Two memories are pretty clear for me.  I remember living in Topeka in the late 70s and couldn't contain my excitement about going to a real NBA game with the Kansas City Kings, Phil Ford and Otis Birdsong.  That was so much fun.  I was remembering going to those games when I went back to Kemper much later with my new wife, hearing Toni Braxton and Kenny G in concert.  That was an amazing show.  I'm not an acoustics expert, but it sounded great to me.  And eventually, it was back to basketball as I took my children to Kemper to watch the Harlem Globetrotters.

Now, the Sprint Center is about the third busiest concert venue in the country, can't judge the acoustics of the Center, either.. but I think it's better suited for college basketball games, perfect for that.  As KC moves ahead, and changes the look of what was the Kemper Arena, we'd love to share your memories of any horse and livestock shows, concerts or games.

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