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American Ninja Warrior stops for Union Station competition

March 16, 2015

By: Alan Portner | AXS Contributor | Mar 14, 2015

Video provided by American Ninja Warrior

Earlier this week, Union Station and the newly reconstituted Kansas City Film Office announced a big win. Kansas City will host one of five preliminary competitions for the seventh season of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior. The filming and competition will take place in the main parking lot of Union Station off Pershing Street in sight of the Liberty Memorial and the World War I Museum across the road.

Two episodes will tape April 17 and 18, 2014, at the iconic location before presentation on NBC this summer and then be repeated on the Esquire network several times concurrently.

For those not terribly familiar with American Ninja Warrior, six million people watch faithfully each week. Remember that obstacle course you struggled through in junior high school? This is that on steroids. The demands made on contestants are absolutely crazy and winners at the regional level progress to a national final produced in Las Vegas. The winners of that competition earn a cash prize of $500,000.

There are plenty of thrills and spills as can be attributed to by the video of past competitions attached to this story. The level of strength, training, and dedication added by contestants from around the country is remarkable.

This big get is the result of effort from the newly reconstituted KC Film Office and Commissioner Stephane Scupham. A Film Commission has existed for many years, but the Film Office itself was shuttered for over a decade due to budget cuts when city funding ceased in 2002.

Heather Laird, president of Kansas City Film Commission, urged Kansas City Mayor Sly James and the City Council in the restoration of a city film office. “It was a huge loss for the metro's filming community when the city forced the Kansas City Film Office to shut down… Kansas City could be losing out on the production of major films and big money,” said Laird.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars a year are spent in Kansas City on production, and that is primarily commercial production, some television production corporate internet, that sort of thing. It is big business in Kansas City," Laird said.

Why Kansas City?

“After scouting all over the country, we selected Kansas City because it is a popular destination for all ages, features an ideal visual landscape, and because its central location draws amazing athletes from Colorado to Ohio and from Minnesota to Mississippi,” said American Ninja Warrior Executive Producer and CEO Kent Weed. “And I would be remiss not to add the Kansas City has some of the best BBQ in the country,” he added.

In addition to being a free fun viewer event, the visit from America Ninja Warrior is really all about economic development. Free Tickets are available through a company caller On-Camera Audience. Several hundred crew members will come to town early to set the course. More than 700 contestants are expected to compete. And millions will get the opportunity to see some of what Kansas City has to offer.