Council Told Convention Efforts Need Boost | KCUR

Council Told Convention Efforts Need Boost

Mar 5, 2010

Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City, Missouri's city council continued hearing from departments on next year's budget yesterday. They discussed items including public health, public works and the city's convention and tourism efforts.

Oscar McGaskey, who is in charge of the city's convention facilities told the council that in addition to declining major convention business, the city continues to be saddled with a large deficit for Kemper Arena, projected to lose $1.6 million next year.

He says almost all the events are going to the new Sprint Arena, which is not all bad:" We want the events to go to Sprint because when the events go to Sprint, folks will go to the Power and Light District, they'll eat, they'll go to our establishments, and we want that to happen... but at the same time we've got to figure out how to bring this deficit down."

McGaskey says he is working with the American Royal and Anschutz Entertainment, trying to find "innovative solutions."

As for the convention situation, McGaskey told the council that the city is getting a declining number of major conventions. "From 2000 to 2009 we had 248 conventions for that 10-year period. We averaged 24.8 conventions per year. But you look at 2010 through [20]19... we only have 59 definite conventions booked. That's 5.9 average per year, so we're right now down about 76 percent. That's pretty dramatic," he said.

McGaskey says more aggressive marketing is needed... and building a proposed new convention hotel downtown would help. But getting major city financial participation in a hotel may be a tough sell with tight budget conditions and total hotel room rental nights down 65 percent.