TV News & Reviews

NBC’s ‘American Ninja Warrior’ will film at Union Station in April

A poster at Tuesday’s press conference.
A poster at Tuesday’s press conference. Kansas City Star

Kansas City, get ready to release your inner ninja.

Officials representing the city and Union Station announced Tuesday that NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” will film here April 17-18, one of five cities to be featured in the competition show’s seventh season.

Stephane Scupham, who heads Kansas City’s new film and media office, described “Warrior” as a national and international phenomenon.

The show’s stories-high, 20-obstacle course will be built in the parking lot in front of Union Station. Construction may even require the removal of the parking lot lights, city spokesman Chris Hernandez said.

How might the show take advantage of its Kansas City location? That’s not known, but Hernandez joked about contestants scaling the front of Union Station, climbing the Liberty Memorial across the street or doing a jazz riff before plunging into a water pit.

The two days of filming will result in two two-hour shows. Though the new season premieres May 25 on NBC, it’s unclear exactly when the Kansas City episodes will air.

The first will feature a regional qualifying round. The second finals show will air several weeks later.

Contestants have already been chosen, Scupham said, and it’s likely the public will get a chance to watch the filming. Hernandez said “Warrior” will bring to the city a crew of 200 or so, who are expected to start arriving a week before filming.

At a news conference, officials repeatedly praised Kansas City as a “film-friendly city” actively wooing TV and movie productions. The city’s film and media office in its latest incarnation has been running since last October.

“American Ninja Warrior” looked at a variety of Kansas City landmarks but ultimately chose Union Station. Another contender was the Power & Light District, Hernandez said.

In a statement, “Warrior” executive producer Kent Weed said Kansas City was selected because it’s a popular destination for people of all ages, features an “ideal visual landscape” and is centrally located.

In addition to Kansas City, regional qualifying rounds and finals will be shot in Houston, Orlando, Pittsburgh and Venice, Calif. To guarantee a spot in the national finals, competitors must successfully complete the finals course in their region.

Finals will take place in Las Vegas, where one athlete will score the title of American Ninja Warrior and a $500,000 grand prize.

According to, the show attracted nearly 6 million viewers on NBC in September, the end of its season. The show is also aired in repeats on the Esquire channel.

To reach Tim Engle, call 816-234-4779 or send email to Twitter: @tim_engle