by Kaylee Hultgren | May 01, 2010

Kansas City
Local Update: 
The eight-block area of downtown now known as the Power & Light District wrapped up a multiyear $850 million development project last year. The new neighborhood links the convention center and the new Sprint Center arena and offers more than 40 dining and entertainment venues, such as Lucky Strike Lanes, Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant, and Maker's Mark Bourbon House & Lounge.

Just south of the Kansas City Con­vention Center, the $405 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is preparing for a fall 2010 opening. When completed, the facility will be home to the Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric Opera. Spaces include a 1,800-seat ballet, opera and theater hall, a 1,600-seat symphony concert hall and Celebration Hall, which can be used for a variety of events.

A gigantic waterpark and year-round resort is being built east of the Kansas City Speedway. The Schlitterbahn Vacation Village Waterpark will feature 1,800 hotel rooms, a six-story uphill water coaster, an interactive Marine Park with saltwater lagoons for snorkeling, and a mile-long river walk dotted with shopping and entertainment options. The water park opened this year, while accommodations and entertainment will come online in the next two years.

This month, a decision will be made on whether to go ahead with a proposed convention center hotel offering about 1,000 rooms.

Meeting Hotels:
 Among the many properties in Kansas City are the 946-room Kansas City Marriott Downtown, 731-room Hyatt Regency Crown Center, 729-room Westin Crown Center, 392-room Harrah's North Kansas City, 356-room Doubletree Hotel Overland Park-Corporate Woods, 347-room Hilton Kansas City Airport and 346-room InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza. For more facilities, search mcmag.com/meeting-facilities.

Convention Center: Kansas City Convention Center; exhibit space, approximately 388,000 square feet; number of meeting rooms, 45; (800) 821-7060; kcconvention.com

Airport Transit:
Kansas City International Airport, about 19 miles from downtown. Transfer by taxi, approximately $40; by SuperShuttle, $18 plus tip, one way, or $31 roundtrip

Taxes: State tax, 4.225%; county tax, 1.125%; city tax, 2.375%; convention and tourism tax, 7.5%; downtown district tax, .5%; total hotel tax, 15.725%

Group Venue: Powell Gar­dens, a haven of horticulture about 30 minutes outside of Kansas City, has added the new and edible Heartland Harvest Garden to its landscape of greenery. The 12-acre expansion begins with the Menu Garden, showcasing herbal appetizers, followed by collections of apples, cherry tomatoes and soybeans in a display of true farm-to-table eating. Spaces to rent at the gardens are a multipurpose conference room that accommodates up to 175 and the 35-person Community Room, ideal for a board meeting. (816) 697-2600; powellgardens.org

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art added a $200 million expansion in 2007, resembling an entire 67-story building laying on its side. The all-glass structure, called the Bloch Building, houses a wide variety of contemporary and modern art, as well as the newly acquired Hallmark Photographic Collection, featuring more than 6,500 works by 600 photographers. Also included in the expansion is the new Ford Learning Center, a new parking garage, an entry plaza and a reflecting pool. A total of 165,000 square feet of new galleries has been added. Among a variety of areas that can be rented out privately: Kirkwood Hall features black-and-white marble columns and can hold groups of up to 1,000 people; the interior courtyard space of Rozzelle Court, with its two-story arcade, can seat up to 200; and the shimmering, glass-enclosed lobby can accommodate a reception of up to 900. (816) 751-1278; nelson-atkins.org

Sports: Kansas City has seen an abundance of recent stadium renovations. For instance, as of last April, the Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium has a new 9,500-seat, open-air pavilion, along with wider concourses and more concession stands; a sports bar and restaurant; the new Fan Walk; and the baseball Royals Hall of Fame (mlb.mlb.com/kc/ballpark/index.jsp). Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs football team is based, is undergoing a major renovation. Fans will appreciate perks such as a new stadium club, a Chiefs' Hall of Honor and an expanded memorabilia shop (kcchiefs.com/arrowhead). Connected to the city's new Sprint Center arena is the 41,500-square-foot College Basketball Experience, home to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and various interactive basketball exhibits, like buzzer-beaters and slam-dunk simulations (collegebasketballexperience.com).

CVB Services: Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association, (816) 691-3849; visitkc.com