City Spotlight | Kansas City

By Libby Hoppe, May 24, 2012

It’s the heart of the heartland and the capital of America’s breadbasket. We’re referring to Kansas City, which is famous for a few things: jazz, barbecue and its perplexing location. Is it in Kansas? Or Missouri? Both, actually. Two states, one burgeoning city. KC is the relatively small destination landing relatively big events left and right. Here’s why.

Conventional Wisdom
Smart. That’s the best word to describe the Kansas City Convention Center, an eight-square-block facility that can accommodate any size group. It has ample exhibit space (388,800 square feet of column-free space), plenty of meeting rooms (48), an arena (with seating for 10,700) and two outdoor reception areas. It’s also connected to adjacent hotels by skywalk making hot summer days and cool winter nights a non-issue. The center’s 46,000-sq.-ft. grand ballroom opened in 2007, earning LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Block Party
If there’s one other place planners needs to see on a site visit, it’s Kansas City’s Power and Light District (pictured), which will be easy enough because it’s a short walk from the convention center and the surrounding hotels. The eight-block dining and entertainment zone sprouted up a few years ago, quickly the place to see and be seen. Need to give attendees a place to find dining on their own? Send them here. Want to give attendees a fun place to let their hair down after a long day of keynotes and breakouts? This is the spot. Looking for a place to host a cool off-site reception? Look no further.

Meat Me in KC
Make no mistake: This is a barbecue town. It doesn’t matter how or when, but at some point during your meeting or event, you need to serve barbecue—authentic KC-style, which is slow, wood-smoked meats covered with a tomato-and-molasses style sauce. A few classic restaurants accommodate small groups and, better yet, cater heaping trays of ribs, burnt ends and brisket at events. Consider Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue or Arthur Bryant’s, two of the city’s most legendary BBQ joints.

Diversifying the Portfolio
Kansas City has made big-time investments in its future ($4.5 billion in total downtown improvements alone). In addition to the convention center renovations and the Power and Light District, the $415 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts opened last year. Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Chiefs, completed a $375 million renovation in 2010. And the Sprint Center, a $276 million multi-use arena, was opened adjacent to the P&L District in 2007.

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