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Kansas City puts the brakes on Westport plan to charge an entry fee

City Hall appears doubtful that Westport merchants will be allowed to charge a fee to get into the entertainment district late on weekend nights.
City Hall appears doubtful that Westport merchants will be allowed to charge a fee to get into the entertainment district late on weekend nights. The Kansas City Star

The Westport merchants league wants to charge people a fee to enter the district late at night on weekends to help pay for the security required to manage large crowds.

But City Hall says the entertainment district must maintain free public access, which makes the proposed cover charge problematic at the least.

Kim Kimbrough, director of the Westport Regional Business League, told The Pitch that gatekeepers would soon begin charging people a nominal fee, perhaps $5, to get into the entertainment district after 11 p.m. or so on weekends.

Whoa.

“They did not disclose their intent to us prior to submitting their permit request,” City Manager Troy Schulte said in an email to The Star. “They submitted a request for (a) catering event which allows for entry fees to be charged, but the presumption for that permit is that the property is private and not public.”

Westport has a festival permit that allows public streets and sidewalks to be gated off so officials can check IDs and keep minors out. The permit could also allow Westport to charge a fee to enter establishments within the perimeter.

“But they have to maintain free public access, which makes it more difficult to implement,” Schulte said.

There was discussion about 15 years ago of the city vacating portions of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue to allow the entertainment district to control those streets, but that did not happen.

The Power & Light District charges $10 for a Late Night Pass into the KC Live space across from the Sprint Center after 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. But KC Live is private property.

“The city needs to conduct a legal review of the Westport proposal to see what structure would work and what requirements would be placed on the festival permit,” Schulte told The Star. “In other words, we have a lot of work to do before anything is implemented in Westport.”

Kimbrough did not return calls to The Star.

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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