Kansas City hosted about 150,000 out-of-town guests during baseball’s All Star events, city officials said Thursday.
By LYNN HORSLEY
The Kansas City Star
That exceeded some promoters’ projections because Kansas City is a small market. But Jason Hodges, who was the mayor’s point person for the All Star Game, said he thought people would come to Kansas City and they did.
“This is a pretty big baseball town,” Hodges said. “We were pretty much right where I thought we would be.”
While hotel occupancy figures aren’t yet final, the Convention and Visitors Association estimated that 120,000 visitors stayed in area hotels sometime during All-Star events July 6-10. Preliminary figures show occupancy above 76 percent during that time, and revenue topped $3 million a day on July 9 and 10, up more than $1 million a day from the same period last year.
City Council members and other city officials said Thursday that All-Star Week went off without a hitch and put Kansas City in a good light for the rest of the country.
“We are not going to be a flyover city anymore,” said Kimiko Gilmore, assistant to the city manager for special projects. “Everyone seemed to have a great time.”
Councilman Scott Wagner said Kansas City showed it can roll out the red carpet for a big national event.
“It’s time to go aggressively after more events,” he said. “We’ve proven we can do this.”
But Kansas City lost out to its cross-state rival in one respect.
The FanFest at Bartle Hall drew 119,092 fans — more than Phoenix drew last year and the fourth-highest total ever. However, St. Louis has the record with 150,804 at its FanFest in 2009. New York City is second with 129,021 in 2008.
Stacy Bartlett, a vice president with the Convention and Visitors Association, said Kansas City had hoped to surpass St. Louis’ record. She speculated that blistering heat kept some people away, even though FanFest was in air conditioned comfort.
The All-Star Game provided a boost for 18th and Vine, especially the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. The museum’s president, Bob Kendrick, said the museum has attracted more than 5,000 visitors in the two weeks since July 6, compared with 5,400 visitors for the entire month of July last year.
Councilman Jim Glover said the event also gave Kansas City a chance to shine for its own residents. Watch parties at five outdoor venues the night of the July 10 game drew more than 1,750 people.
“We took the opportunity to show Kansas City off for the people who live here,” Glover said.
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