Conventions

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

Hillary Clinton brought her campaign for president to the National Baptist Convention USA in Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday. The Democratic nominee used gospel verses and personal stories to distinguish herself from Donald Trump.

People attending the convention are almost entirely African-American, conservative, middle-aged and dressed to the nines. In her address, Clinton, a life-long Methodist, quoted scripture to knowing smiles and nods. Some audience members even recited lines along with her. 

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Any errant Star Trek commander you see this weekend strolling downtown was not beamed down from the Starship Enterprise. Chances are better that they're taking part in Planet Comicon Kansas City. KCUR's resident sci-fi aficionados, Cody Newill and Mike Russo, went down to Bartle Hall to soak up the scene and talk to attendees.

visitkc.com

A Kansas City Council Committee has approved a contract extension of up to five years for California-based company Ticketmaster to continue to ticketing for events at city-owned convention and entertainment facilities.

McGaskey, executive director for the venues, says one factor that set Ticketmaster apart from two competing bidders was a $45,000 annual Ticketmaster allowance for advertising to help promote events. He said the assistance is a “nice incentive” to offer some event sponsors. 

A group that challenged tax breaks for a $310 million downtown Kansas City convention hotel announced Tuesday that it will not challenge a judge's ruling that the city does not have to honor their petition drive to force a public vote. 

A Jackson County judge ruled in agreement with the city that though Citizens for Responsible Government collected the required number of valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot, doing so could require the city to illegally default on already-signed development agreements.

Hyatt Hotels

Kansas City is asking a Jackson County judge to dismiss a lawsuit that would delay construction on a downtown convention hotel.

The city attorney’s office filed its response Wednesday to a group of petitioners that want to force a vote on a $311 million plan to build a Hyatt hotel downtown.

Hyatt Hotels

Citizens for Responsible Government, the organization that collected petition signatures to send financing plans for a downtown Kansas City convention hotel has filed suit attempting to force the City Council to put their initiative on a ballot.

In the battle over tax breaks for developers of a downtown Kansas City convention hotel, the ball is once again in the city's court.

The committee of petitioners hand-delivered a letter to the City Clerk on Thursday spelling out in some detail legal arguments that the City Council did not have the right to refuse to honor petition signatures calling for a public vote on the city's financial underwriting of the hotel. 

The letter cites specific sections of the Missouri Constitution as well as court decisions in Missouri and federal courts.

Kansas City Council Defies Hotel Vote Petitions

Nov 13, 2015
Hyatt Hotels

Only one Kansas City council member voted Thursday to honor the petitions and submit the city's plans for tax incentives and other financial considerations to the voters. 

The Northland's Heather Hall said she simply did not believe the downtown convention hotel would produce the economic benefits developers speak of and that she has concerns about the effect on local businesses, particularly in the catering industry.

The legal review committee of the Kansas City Council has accepted City Attorney Bill Geary's opinion and is recommending that the council not honor a recent petition drive that sought to force a public vote on the planned downtown convention hotel.

Geary opined that the state gives the council the power to approve Tax Increment Financing and allowing voters to overrule that would violate the state constitution. 

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Hotel Corp.

Both groups opposing the planned 800-room convention hotel adjacent to Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City say they are standing their ground.

The City Council heard lengthy presentations on Thursday from city staff as well as representatives of the developers of the proposed hotel and convention and tourism officials.

 

The council is gathering information in preparation for a decision on what to do about a petition drive for a public vote on whether the city should be financially involved in developing the hotel.

 

Hyatt Hotels

As the Kansas City Council struggles with whether to honor a successful petition drive for a public vote on a planned downtown convention hotel, developers tell the council a delay for the election could be a deal-breaker.

Among the stakeholders in a lengthy Thursday presentation to city council members was Steven Rattner, a finance specialist with the developer of the 800-room hotel. Rattner rold the council that the developer began spending significant time and money on the project in May, after a detailed agreement was signed with the city.

Hyatt Hotels

Faced with the prospect of a lawsuit from petitioners if a referendum on a new downtown hotel does not go on the ballot, Kansas City council members worry that more costly lawsuits could result if they honor the 1,700 petition signatures filed. 

The outgoing city council approved the deal on the $311 million, 800-room hotel in July.  The deal involves $164 million in city participation, but the commitment does not add to the city's debt load, and City Manager Troy Schulte says all city cash obligations would come from tourism taxes, not from the general fund.

City of Kansas City, Missouri

An effort to put a downtown convention hotel up for a public vote took another official step forward Thursday.

But where it goes from here remains unclear. 

Officials with the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners say they have counted and validated signatures on a petition filed this week by a group seeking to challenge a recently inked deal to develop an 800-room Hyatt Hotel next to Bartle Hall

flickr user Justin Waits

Kansas City will host the national convention for Shriners International in 2020.

Shriners International, Visit KC, and Mayor Sly James announced the news on Thursday.

An estimated 20,000 visitors are expected to attend, staying in thousands of hotel rooms. An expected financial boost is nearly $18 million. 

"Kansas City has all the facilities we need and a first-class convention center," said Jeff Sowder, imperial potentate with Shriners International, in a release.

Bartle Hall Roof Leaks, Repairs Coming Soon

Aug 20, 2015
Chantex/Public Domain

It can be pretty frustrating: you have people in and it rains and the roof leaks. 

That is what has been happening for several years at Bartle Hall according to Kansas City Director of Convention and Entertainment Facilities Oscar McGaskey.

Mc Gaskey told the City Council Finance Committee on Wednesday that the roof at Bartle is beyond patchwork repairs and “in bad shape.”

He says exhibitors keep asking him when it will be repaired.

As expected, the full Kansas City Council approved financing arrangements for a proposed downtown convention hotel on Thursday.

One by one, the council members each spoke in favor or the convention hotel. Then the body voted unanimously to issue $35 million in bonds for construction, provide $4.9 million worth of land between Bartle Hall and the Kauffman Center, and endorse property tax abatement for the hotel.

Hyatt Hotels

The full Kansas City Council is expected to vote Thursday on underwriting and tax abatement for a new downtown Hyatt convention hotel. 

A council committee on Wednesday approved a $35 million cash contribution, to be financed with bonds.  The bonds would be paid off from convention and tourism taxes.

That funding, plus tax breaks and a $4.5 million contribution of city-owned land would add up to more than half of the expected $311 million project cost.

  It's been estimated that Kansas City has lost out on $3 billion worth of business over the last ten years because of convention commerce that’s vanished. The city’s proposed downtown convention hotel is supposed to be the answer, but is the $302 million project going to deliver the economic impact it promises?

Guests:

  • Steve Vockrodt is a reporter for The Pitch.
  • Patrick Tuohey is the Western Missouri Field Manager for the Show-Me Institute.
Elle Moxley / KCUR

The American Nurses Association, the National Society of Black Engineers, SkillsUSA – all groups Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James says would have held conventions in the metro if not for a lack of hotel space.

"They love Kansas City," James says. "They were going to look out at the hotels, and when they came back, they said, 'We can't come.'"

James and other civic leaders hope to remedy the problem with a new, $300 million hotel across the street from the Kansas City Convention Center. 

How is Kansas City doing when it comes to attracting conventions and tourists to town?