Despite being midsized in both population and convention business, Kansas City was rated among the top five cities in high travel taxes. That rating didn't include the new 1 percent downtown streetcar Transportation Development District (TDD) tax or the proposed 1 percent Community Improvement District (CID) for the proposed new 800-room convention hotel. These additional taxes will make Kansas City less attractive to conventions.
The 2016 Republican Convention will be hosted in Cleveland. Kansas City was considered but not chosen. Kansas City leaders want you to believe it is because Kansas City does not have enough convention hotel rooms. This claim does not stand up to scrutiny.
Consultant suggests convention-center expansion. Expansion disappoints. Consultant suggests 1,000-room hotel. No one questions consultant about previous suggestion. Instead, city officials gleefully accept hotel recommendation and hire the consultant to conduct further study.
The above was taken from a Pitch piece in May 2010, and it is certainly as true today as it was then.
Kansas Citians are being told that if we don't hurry up and subsidize the construction of a new 800-room convention hotel, we will lose out on millions of dollars of convention business. For voters who lived here in 2002, it must seem like the movie Groundhog Day.
Right now, leaders in Kansas City, Missouri, are eager to build a convention hotel downtown. But there is precious little information available. We know that the city has been negotiating for years with developers to build a $300 million 800-room hotel. It appears to be a 50-50 split, with $150 million coming from private investors and the remaining half will be supported by city outlays, tax abatements, and other subsides.
Let's assume for the sake of argument that the planned convention hotel in Kansas City does increase convention business. How much more convention business will the city need to repay the investment? No one is saying.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James has announced an effort, long discussed at City Hall, to subsidize a convention hotel downtown. Part of the justification for this expense is the need to attract more conventions to Kansas City, despite the fact that the convention industry is already crowded and in decline.