Can a recently announced, 800-room Hyatt hotel, scheduled to open in 2018, boost Kansas City’s convention prospects when it opens? The city has invested heavily in its downtown convention center – from Bartle Hall’s $144 million expansion in the 1990s to a $150 million upgrade completed in 2007 – and yet business has lagged.
Heywood T. Sanders, one of the country’s foremost experts on urban development, notes that KC is not alone. In a discussion of his book, Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities, he notes a nationwide surge in convention center development in the past two decades amid promises of new jobs, private development, and tax revenues. In Boston, Orlando, and elsewhere, the returns have similarly been limited. So why does the building continue?
Sanders is a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.