Missouri - A Successful Meetings Destination

SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS April 2007 The "Show Me" State has a new moniker: it's now "show me the money," as megabillion-dollar developments are transforming the respective downtowns of St. Louis and Kansas City. Down south, Branson and Springfield have also contributed to the statewide renaissance, with Branson Landing and the JQH Arena nearing completion.

Essential Tool Box
Convention Facilities: America's Center St. Louis, 502,000 sf of dedicated exhibit space; Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Centers, 388,800 sf of dedicated exhibit space; Springfield Convention Center, 69,000 sf of dedicated exhibit space; Branson Convention Center, 220,000 sf of dedicated exhibit space.
For complete listings, visit Facility Quick Search at www.mimegasite.com
Average Daily Costs:
ST. LOUIS Hotel $145.93 F&B $71.99 Car Rental $95.06 KANSAS CITY Hotel $135.96 F&B $85.99 Car Rental $118.36
For More Info:
St. Louis CVC
Kansas City CVA
Springfield CVB
Branson/Lakes Area CVB
*Business Travel News 2007 Corporate Travel Index

The Big News
In St. Louis, more than $3.5 billion has been put into the city, including Pinnacle Entertainment's $430-million Lumiere Place, which is planned as an upscale complex with two hotels, a 75,000-sf casino, dining and retail, and meeting/convention space. At presstime, officials were close to announcing the name of the 200-room luxury hotel, which will be located a few blocks from the convention center. The Embassy Suites closes this month for renovation, to reopen when the casino complex is finished in Nov.

Elsewhere, Ballpark Village, next to the new Busch Stadium, begins construction this year. According to Kitty Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis CVC, " We anticipate it being ready in first quarter 2009. It will have a condo tower, a [St. Louis Cardinals baseball museum], restaurants and entertainment, and a substantial amount of shopping. By January 2008, the Pinnacle complex will be done, and visitors will see Ballpark Village and the new St. Louis Centre under way."

Last month, America's Center began a $2-million facelift that will add lounge areas on the first floor and an art gallery featuring special lighting and seating areas. In Mar, the center's executive conference center reopened after relocating across the hallway from its old location.

In Kansas City, several projects in the city's $4.5-billion downtown capitalization plan are coming online. This fall, Phase I of the new $835-million Power & Light District, which is within walking distance of the convention center, opens. The entertainment, retail, office, and residential district is expected to feature eclectic boutiques, art galleries, live entertainment, and a mix of restaurants. Phase II will include the construction of 1,500 residential units and approximately one million sf of office space.

Near the Power & Light District, the Sprint Center is a new 18,500-seat arena expected to open in Oct. The $276-million facility will house the College Basketball Experience and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, both of which will be available to meeting groups as event venues.

In Springfield, the $67-million, 11,000-seat JQH Arena is expected to open in Nov 2008 at Missouri State University. It will have 22 suites, a 4,500-sf club, 100 loge seats, and an MSU Sports Hall of Fame. In the process, Hammons Student Center is being renovated so it can also have special events from outside MSU. Nearby, Missouri Entertainment & Event Center is now the official title of the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. The name lends itself to its many intentions, as it has 85,100 sf of flexible space, including the Noel Boyd Arena, with 10,800 sf, which opened in 2006.

Also, the Discovery Center in Springfield has gone green after expanding by 30,000 sf last Sept . For videoconferencing to up to three sites at once, the
Discovery Center has a 100-seat auditorium along with foyer and mezzanine. So environmentally friendly is it that the rooftop gardens cool the 55,000-sf building as plants are watered.

Springfield now has more shelter, as the 83-room Candlewood Suites North will be available by April 5, with kitchens and a fitness center. Meetings for up to 50 theater-style can be held in an 800-sf room with built-in screen and LCD player. The 87-room Comfort Suites opened in 2006 with a 12-seat boardroom.
After being vacant for 26 years, the 1,117-capacity Gillioz Theatre was given a $10-million interior overhaul in 2006, from stage to equipment.

In Branson, the new 2,000-seat RFD-TV Theater will have major concerts along with TV tapings. Club '57, a 150-seat nightclub, will feature live entertainment and a dance floor when it opens May 1 inside Dick Clark's American Bandstand (AB) Theater. For outdoor events, Area '57 will be inaugurated this May 17 for groups of up to 5,000; on-site catering is offered. For family fun, there are new attractions at White Water and Silver Dollar City.

Readers Recommend
Our subscribers gave Pinnacle Awards to the following:
The Lodge of Four Seasons
Charles F. Knight Center
For complete listings, visit Facility Quick Search at www.mimegasite.com

Countdown to Center Opening
This is the year that Branson's $425-million spent in development bears fruit. The new Branson Convention Center debuts in August in a spectacular setting that overlooks Lake Taneycomo. With two tiers, it will have 220,000 sf of meeting space, of which 50,000 sf will be on the first level along with the 23,000-sf ballroom. It will have 12 individual rooms on the second level, ranging from 1,000 to 5,500 sf. Also opening in August is the 293-room Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. The property comprises 193 traditional guest rooms and 99 condo rentals in 12 stories alongside the Branson Landing entertainment complex. Nearby, the 243-room Hilton Promenade, which opened this Valentine's Day, has a restaurant and indoor pool.

The convention center and headquarters Hilton are part of a development that also includes Branson Landing, Phase I of which will feature 100 retailers by the end of 2007. Among these, Cantina Laredo most recently opened, with room for small group functions.

Tee time in Branson begins at the $20-million Murder Rock and $15-million Tribute golf courses, two 18-hole courses that are opening in 2007. Murder Rock, designed by Landmark Land Company, will be semiprivate; the Tribute has been laid out by Bobby Clampett, in honor of the late Payne Stewart.

For further relaxation, the $6-million, 14,000-sf Spa Chateau opened last summer at the Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center. It features a Roman bath, 10 treatment rooms, a movement therapy studio for Pilates, yoga, and tai chi. - Patricia Bates