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The Metropolis of Sports: Kansas City, Missouri

7 Jan, 2015

By: Juli Anne Patty

For more than a hundred years, Kansas City, Missouri, has been known as the City of Fountains, and it is widely known for serving up some of the world’s best barbecue. But in the last few decades, Kansas City has added a new nickname to its list: City of Fanatics—sports fanatics, that is.

To the long list of Kansas City accolades, Travel + Leisure Magazine recently added a new title: one of America’s Top 10 Cities for Sports-Crazed Fans. After hosting a homerun World Series, Kansas City became widely known as a championship sports host. But if baseball and barbecue are all you know about Kansas City, prepare to have your sports mind blown.

Buzzworthy KC

Kansas City has a reputation: convenient and easy to navigate, friendly, affordable and, of course, delicious. But in recent years, the city’s burgeoning arts scene, vibrant culinary creations and roaring sports enthusiasm have made the city, according to MSNBC, “definitely deserving of buzz.” Buzz, however, is just the beginning. With a deep bench of resources, accommodations and attractions, Kansas City is well-prepared to remain a championship city for decades to come.

The championship feeling runs throughout the Kansas City metro, with world-class venues serving a wide range of events, include award-winning professional sports stadiums, state-of-the-art convention facilities and modern, multi-functional arenas.

Kansas City, Missouri’s, Sprint Center arena finished 2013 as the eighth-busiest arena in the country, according to Pollstar magazine. Opened in 2007, the glass arena was a catalyst to downtown Kansas City’s $6.5 billion renaissance. Since then, it has entertained more than 7 million guests each year and hosted more than 740 events. Stretched across eight and half acres, the arena complex also includes The College Basketball Experience attraction, 72 hospitality suites, 14 concession areas, a gift shop, a sports bar, a VIP lounge and several smaller meetings for meetings, receptions and other special events.

Kauffman Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals, is known as one of the most beautiful ballparks in the world. A massive $250 million restoration prior to the 2009 season included the expansion of the concourse and an increase in number of concession stands, restrooms, ticket windows, suites and dining and lounge options. Beyond the outfield is the new Outfield Experience, which includes the Royals Hall of Fame and various pre-game amenities for kids of all ages. Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the stadium played host to the 2012 MLB All-Star Week, selling out three days of activities at the stadium. In 2014, the park hosted four games of the World Series.

Adjacent to the Kauffman Stadium in the Truman Sports Complex is another professional sports venue, the landmark Arrowhead Stadium. Home to KC’s NFL franchise—the Kansas City Chiefs—Arrowhead recently completed a major renovation to modernize the facility in the proud tradition of Kansas City football. The stadium currently holds the Guinness World Record for the loudest football stadium in the world. In addition to professional football, the venue also hosts blockbuster concerts, collegiate sporting events and other functions. Expansions in 2010 included the addition of more than 500,000 square feet, as well as 50% more concession areas and 80% more restroom facilities.

Located in Kansas City, Kansas, Sporting Park is home to the region’s Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, Sporting Kansas City. In addition to soccer, the park was constructed to accommodate other large, non-sports related spectacles. Since its inaugural year in 2011, the venue has hosted major events such as Farm Aid, the Flatlands Country Music Festival and the 2013 MLS All-Star Game. Crafted to give both diehard fans and casual spectators a one-of-a-kind experience, it was no surprise that Sporting Park also caught international fame, receiving multiple venue design honors including the Stadium Business Awards Venue of the Year in 2012.

A previous host to USA Volleyball and MLB All-Star Fan Fest, the Kansas City Convention Center is the largest meeting space in Kansas City, Missouri. The eight-square block convention and special event facility can accommodate every need with 388,800 square feet of column-free exhibit space on one floor; 48 state-of-the-art meeting rooms; a 2,400-seat fine arts theater; an arena that sits more than 10,700 people and a unique outdoor festival plaza. And not only is it all in one location, the 800,000-square-foot complex is connected to major downtown hotels and parking by skywalks and underground walkways.

Located in Overland Park, Kansas, the Overland Park Soccer Complex is an ideal destination for the sport. Considered the only complex of its kind in the United States, the venue was named the top soccer facility in the nation by Livability. The complex covers 96 acres and offers 12 lighted, regulation-size synthetic fields with a cooling system to control the temperature of the turf. Other amenities include evaporative cooling fans next to player benches, permanent first aid facilities, free wi-fi, office space for tournament coordinators and a referee lounge. The venue hosted the US Youth Soccer National Championships in 2010.

Located in Independence, Missouri, the Independence Events Center is a 5,800-seat arena. The state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility also features 25 suites; 2,200 paved parking spots on site; a grill restaurant and a community ice facility. The venue hosts more than 100 events each year and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors annually. The center is home to the Central Hockey League franchise, the Missouri Mavericks and the Major Indoor Soccer League team, the Missouri Comets. The venue also hosts concerts, trade shows, professional sporting events, festivals and community ceremonies.

College Basketball Capital of America

If basketball is your game, Kansas City should be at the top of your list. Kansas City hosts more college basketball tournament games than anywhere else in the country each March. In 2014, the whopping total came to 58 teams and 54 games stretched across 15 days. Tournaments each March include postseason play for the Big 12 Conference, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Historic Municipal Auditorium, a venue inside the Kansas City Convention Center, holds the distinction of having hosted more Final Fours than any other American venue.

Sports: Past, Present and Future

A frequent stop for visiting dignitaries, presidents and celebrities, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a national treasure. From Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson to KC’s own Buck O’Neil, the NLBM chronicles the storied history and heroes of the leagues. Located in what was once the epicenter of the city’s African American community, the museum was awarded national designation in 2006.

Further cementing the area’s reputation as a hoops hotbed, Kansas City is now home to the state-of-the-art College Basketball Experience (CBE). Connected to the new Sprint Center arena via a common lobby, the 41,500-square-foot entertainment facility contains hands-on, interactive basketball exhibits and houses the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Sweating is almost inevitable as CBE’s high-energy exhibits recreate the intensity of a college basketball game—from foul-line hecklers to a last-second buzzer beater.

The Visit KC Experience

In Kansas City, the goal is to ensure that every athlete feels like a champion and that requires an experienced and committed team. Fortunately, KC has one of those too.

“When we host an event, the network of people involved is immense because we want to make sure attendees don’t see what’s behind the curtain and can just focus on the experience,” says Becky Harsch, Visit KC National Accounts Manager. “Visit KC depends on the collaboration of public works, police, airport, citizens and regional and local CVBs to make each event successful.”

Whatever your event, Kansas City is prepared to help you make it a seamless success. The Visit KC team is always ready to work hard so that its guests can play hard. To find out more about how you can bring your next event to Kansas City, call or email Becky Harsch: 816-691-3823 or bharsch@visitkc.com.

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