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Municipal Auditorium is a large, multi-purpose facility in Kansas City, Missouri with three halls: The Arena, Music Hall, and Little Theatre. It opened in 1936 and features Streamline Moderne and Art Deco architecture and architectural details.


Municipal Auditorium was one of the buildings built in 1934 as part of a "Ten Year Plan" championed by various local politicians including Harry S. Truman and Thomas Pendergast. Other buildings in the plan included the Kansas City City Hall and the Kansas City branch of the Jackson County Courthouse.

It replaced Convention Hall which was directly across the street and was torn down for parking in what is now called the Barney Allis Plaza.

The streamline moderne architecture was designed by the lead architectural firm of Gentry, Voskamp & Neville to appeal to new visitors with cool and confident restraint. True to its name, the style promised to envelop the visitor in modernity, assuring him/her that Kansas City was a rising star in the country, a place to recommend to friends and colleagues. Alonzo H. Gentry, of the lead architectural firm of Gentry, Voskamp & Neville, was to later design the Truman Library. Hoit, Price & Barnes, the associated architects responsible for the HVAC work at the Municipal Auditorium, had recently designed the Art Deco skyscraper, the Kansas City Power and Light Building (completed in 1931).

When the building opened in 1935, it was called by the Architectural Record "one of the 10 best buildings of the world that year" [4] In 2000, the Princeton Architectural Press called it one of the 500 most important architectural works in the United States.[5]

Municipal Auditorium is connected to the H. Roe Bartle Convention Center by way of skywalks over 13th and Central streets. An underground walkway through a public parking garage provides access to the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, Holiday Inn Aladdin Hotel, and the Folly Theater.


The Arena, nicknamed "Municipal," has hosted the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association tournament since 2003, held every year in early March. When Kansas City hosts the Big 12 Conference tournament, women's games take place here. It is currently home to the NAIA Men's Basketball National Tournament. It was played here from 1937-1975, when it moved into Kemper Arena, and has been home since the Tournament moved back to Kansas City from Tulsa in 2002. By the time the tournament returned to Kansas City, the NAIA had split into two divisions for basketball, and Municipal became the site for the Division I tournament, continuing in that role through the 2019–20 season. With the NAIA returning to a single basketball division in 2020–21, Municipal will continue to host the men's tournament.

As of 2007, Municipal Auditorium had hosted more NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games (83), regional finals (13) and Final Fours (9) than any other facility. The arena also hosted three of the first four Final Fours, but has not hosted a tournament game since 1964.[6] In 2011, the University of Dayton Arena surpassed Municipal Auditorium in number of games hosted, as that arena hosts the NCAA tournament opening round games now known as the First Four.

The 19,500-seat Kemper Arena was built in 1974 to accommodate Kansas City's professional basketball teams that had been playing at the Auditorium. The Kansas City Kings played their first two seasons at the Auditorium, then returned for the majority of the 1979-80 season after the roof of Kemper Arena caved in on June 4, 1979.

It has been home to the University of Missouri–Kansas City men's basketball team, historically known as the UMKC Kangaroos and now as the Kansas City Roos, at two different times. UMKC first played at Municipal from 1986 until moving their games to the Swinney Recreation Center on campus in fall 2010, and returned to Municipal in 2012. Since January 2009, it has been the home of the Kansas City Roller Warriors roller derby league.[7]

Music Hall[]

The Kansas City Music Hall is a large proscenium theatre with a striking Streamline Modern interior that seats an audience of 2,400 patrons. The hall presents touring Broadway shows, as well as visiting symphony orchestras, opera and ballet companies, and other events. It was the main hall of the Kansas City Philharmonic for several decades. It's also the home of the 1927 Robert-Morton Theatre Pipe Organ that originally was in the Kansas City Midland Theatre. The organ is owned and maintained by Kansas City Theatre Pipe Organ, Inc.[8]

Little Theatre[]

The Little Theatre is an elegant octogonal ballroom with a capacity for 400, or banquet seating for 225 available for catered events, and a private balcony room for up to 36 guests.