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University of Missouri

Zwillenberg’s Arena

The Zwillenberg family help the Tiger spirit survive amid legions of KU fans.

The home of Joe and Julie Zwillenberg and children, from left, Jackson, Henry and Charlie, features a black-and-gold basketball court. Photo by Rob Hill.

Deep in the heart of Jayhawk territory, a light always shines on MU.

If not for Joe Zwillenberg, that first line might be just so much bluster about Tiger spirit surviving in the Kansas City area amid legions of KU fans.

But Zwillenberg, BA ’94, has created a Mizzou stronghold at the state line. “It’s my own little battleground,” he jokes. And a well-lit one at that.

In 2002, when Zwillenberg and his family moved into their house at 5945 Ward Parkway, he ordered a huge flagpole for the front yard to fly a Mizzou flag. “The guy installing it asked if I wanted a spotlight on it. I said, ‘Give me the biggest one you’ve got. Make it something like they’d use at a KISS concert.’ ”

In 2006, Zwillenberg bought Westport Flea Market Bar and Grill at 817 Westport Road. Soon, the restaurant began hosting the Tiger Club on Tuesdays. A hundred or more Mizzou graduates gather to enjoy lunch and speakers, including the likes of SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

Zwillenberg’s backyard pool has a Tiger paw set in tile on the bottom. His friends who are pilots say they can spot it from high altitudes. The installer, a KU fan, was unimpressed, but Zwillenberg got the last laugh. “I told him, ‘Hey buddy, if you want to own the pool, go to MU. If you want to work on the pool while the owner has a beer, go to KU.’ ”