Builders & Contractors

Kansas City’s Top Companies: Populous

This Kansas City design firm features talent that is behind some of the world’s most recognized sporting and entertainment venues.


Cheers and applause go hand-in-hand with the work of Populous. The Kansas City firm’s design talent is behind some of the world’s most recognized sports, concert and entertainment venues. From stadiums to arenas, Populous has completed more than 2,000 global projects with construction value exceeding $30 billion. Recently, the company was chosen to design a new 20,000-seat arena in Las Vegas for sporting, major entertainment and other special events.

In all, Populous has worked with 130 universities, 40 convention center clients, 80 professional and civic arena clients, 24 Major League Baseball franchises, 30 NFL franchises, 40 global soccer and rugby teams, 30 equestrian clients and has planned more than 30 major worldwide events.

L to R: Interior Designer Whitney Williams, Senior Principal Rick Martin, and Senior Planning Associate Geoff Cheong of Kansas City design firm Populous. Photo by Gary Rohman

“Through our innovative work in designing iconic gathering places around the globe, Populous is proud to help shine a spotlight on our great city,” says Populous Senior Principal Joe Spear. “Our work isn’t just about designing entertainment buildings, but more importantly, it is about how those buildings can help to grow and develop urban districts and entire communities through a unique understanding of the social experience.”

A company of “firsts,” Populous has defined innovation since its inception in 1983. The firm was the first to introduce the club seating concept at Miami’s Dolphin Stadium in 1987 – a model replicated at nearly every sporting facility across the globe. Likewise, Populous first introduced the dual concourse concept with Milwaukee’s Bradley Center and designed the first retractable field with the opening of the University of Phoenix Stadium for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Its design of Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards is considered the modern standard for the MLB fan experience, and its introduction of a stacked-suite concept at Atlanta’s Philips Arena was ahead of its time. Locally, Populous is behind the design of Sporting Park, Sprint Center and the renovations to Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums.

Globally, Populous has left its mark on such venues as the main stage for the 2012 London Olympics – considered the most sustainable iteration of an Olympic stadium. Populous is now working on the main stadium for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Employee hard work is rewarded with all the traditional corporate perks and opportunities for career development, as well as sharing in the company’s numerous awards and accolades. But perhaps the biggest perk is its “Opening Day” policy. At the completion of every project, the design team and their families get to attend opening day in the new stadium, ballpark or arena the employee helped design. According to Populous, “employees can attest to the fascinating experience of seeing their completed work celebrated by thousands of fans with their family by their side.”