By Jennifer N. Dienst, Contributing Editor
$6 billion worth of new additions and new experiences
There are many great reasons to meet in Kansas City - plentiful accommodations, world famous dining (did someone say barbecue?), and affordable, easily accessible airlift. And now with $6 billion in new development, including a comprehensive renovation of the Kansas City Convention Center, meeting planners and their attendees will find a whole new Kansas City to experience, whether they've visited recently or not.
At the crux of this citywide overhaul is the 800,000-square-foot Kansas City Convention Center’s recent revamp. The center has invested $150 million in new upgrades, including a state-of-the-art projection system, audiovisual equipment, high-speed Wi-Fi, and an energy-efficient lighting system. Also new is the refurbished, 46,484-square-foot Grand Ballroom. The LEED Silver–certified space is one of the nation’s largest green ballrooms and features waterless plumbing, energy-efficient heating and cooling, and one of the most sophisticated lighting systems in the world. In all, planners have 388,800 square feet of contiguous, column-free exhibit space, plus another 55,000 square feet of space on two levels, a 2,400-seat fine-arts theater, and a renovated 10,700-seat arena, to work with for their meetings, conventions, and events.
Visitors won’t have to walk far from the center to find a wealth of hotel rooms at all price points. Within three blocks are nearly 2,000 rooms, and brands in the city include InterContinental, Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, and Westin. Also just a few steps away is the new Power & Light District, an eight-block entertainment hub that includes the striking, new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Walking a little farther south, visitors will find the Crossroads Arts District, home to more than 70 galleries, dozens of boutique shops, and First Fridays, one of the largest free art walks in the country.
Kansas City might be synonymous with barbecue, but the destination is also well regarded for its many locally owned, farm-to- table restaurants. Eateries like The Farmhouse, Blue Bird Bistro, and Justus Drugstore - which has earned praise from The New York Times and Food & Wine — take the all-natural and local approach with delectable results.
For more information: Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association - 888.474.8520;meetkc.com