Lifestyles: Hospitality and Tourism

KANSAS CITY HAS LONG BEEN CONSIDERED A COOL DESTINATION FOR VISITORS WHO GUSH ABOUT ITS BARBECUE, SHOPPING VENUES, NIGHT LIFE AND PROFESSIONAL SPORTS. BUT THERE ARE MANY OTHER GOOD REASONS TO CHECK OUT THE HIDDEN GEMS HERE.



Those are still center stage, but now there is a bigger on the area, along with additional world-class options, especially in the sports realm, for visitors to enjoy and several more places for them to stay on their trip.

The centerpiece will be the $325-million Loews Kansas City Convention Center Hotel which is currently under construction downtown and will feature 800 rooms and 60,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Also on the major-capacity end, the 970-room Kansas City Marriott Downtown recently underwent a $40 million renovation.

Meanwhile, several smaller hotels have opened, or are planned, in the urban core, including The Crossroads Hotel, the 21c Museum Hotel, the Hotel Indigo Kansas City Crossroads, and the Holiday Inn Express Downtown. That influx of rooms has set the table for several large meetings hitting the Kansas City Convention Center over the next few years, including the National League of Cities, the National Association
of Credit Management, Building Owners and Managers Association International and the American Occupational Therapy Association, not to mention Cerner’s Annual Health Conference, which is booked through 2021. 

Events in the works will contribute $174 million to the local economy, according to a Visit KC report last year. While they are here, many visitors to Kansas City will shop. Some might come here solely for that reason. The Country Club Plaza’s Spanish-style architecture has been a draw for nearly a century with its high-end mall stores and restaurants, and is known by many in the shopping-center industry as a national development icon. Surrounding the city, there are also some shopping meccas under the roofs of single mega stores. The cavernous Nebraska Furniture Mart and IKEA, along with the Legends Outlets, all Kansas destinations in themselves, attract shoppers from hundreds of miles away.

Another attraction that brings travelers from a several-state area is the World of Fun theme park and its attached Oceans of Fun which include seven roller coasters and three water rides. The American Royal, with its annual rodeo and fall events that bring in nearly 300,000 visitors per year, is another big draw. For gambling fans, the area is also home to casinos along the Missouri River, including Ameristar Kansas City and Harrah’s North Kansas City. 

Autumn always means an influx of visitors to see the Kansas City Chiefs play at Arrowhead Stadium, and that’s bound to ramp up  significantly, thanks to the theatrics of Patrick Mahomes, the team’s MVP quarterback, and its quest toward an elusive Super Bowl appearance.

Chiefs games had the sixth-highest attendance in the league last year and are sure to see a boost with the anticipation of the 2019 playoff season. Also in the fall, NASCAR fans converge to the Kansas Speedway every year for races in October, as well as in May, and other events take place at the track throughout the year.

Soccer has made a major impact in Kansas City over the last several years, with the addition of MLS team Sporting KC, and that has brought some major international matches of late to the metro area, as Kansas City competes to be a host of 2026 FIFA World Cup, to be decided in 2020. Host cities stand to gain about $620 million economic activity. 

As a potential warmup, Children’s Mercy Park in June had the U.S. Men’s National Team playing Panama and another match between Guyana versus Trinidad and Tobago. Meanwhile, European pros Bayern Munich and AC Milan played in July.

In college basketball, the Big XII Conference Phillips 66 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships are on tap Downtown at the Sprint Center every March through 2024, equating millions of dollars in economic impact. And though the Royals have slumped a bit from their 2015 World Series days, the team’s Kauffman Stadium is considered one of the best ballparks in the country to watch a game. With a new ownership team in place, led by Kansas City businessesman John Sherman, fans anticipate a bright future.