UG to study convention center along I-435 corridor

The Unified Government Commission tonight approved sending out requests for proposals for a feasibility study on a convention center along the I-435 and Village West corridor.

The convention center project comes at the same time as a hotel is being planned next to the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, near I-70 and I-435. The commission voted 7-0 to give the go-ahead for the feasibility study for a convention center.

UG Administrator Doug Bach said there has been some interest in a convention center along the I-435 corridor during the past few years. Recently a few developers have come in to discuss it, he added.

He told the commission that the staff felt that if the UG ever moved forward with such a project, it should have control over the site and the size of the facility, finding out what is the real demand for it and what the size should be.

He recommended that the UG issue a request for proposals, and select a consultant to do this study. He said the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Kansas City, Kan., and community partners are willing to take on almost all of the cost of the $50,000 study. At the Monday meeting, he mentioned the Hollywood Casino-Kansas Speedway as another group that was willing to help fund the study.

Commissioner Mike Kane said a lot of major conventions can’t be held here because the I-435 corridor area doesn’t have a convention center. Currently, the Village West area has some hotels, and some have meeting space, but not a convention center.

“One of the big missing pieces out west is convention space,” Mayor Mark Holland said. A convention center could have the same major effect as the Sporting Park stadium or Legends, he believes. It could compete not just regionally, but nationally for conventions, he believes.

Mayor Holland noted earlier in the meeting that the Republican National Committee currently is in the Kansas City area looking at Kansas City as one of the four finalists for the 2016 national convention. Kansas City, Kan., has passed a unanimous resolution supporting it, along with Kansas City, Mo., and has committed tourism dollars toward it, he said.

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