An energetic city forged by a rich history, Kansas City is brimming with activities to keep you entertained-eclectic cuisine, swinging jazz, one-of-a-kind museums, a thriving arts scene and fantastic shopping. Part of the city's charm lies in its impressive network of parks and boulevards and exquisite fountains. The world-renowned jazz legacy continues today in clubs throughout the city. Coaching Volleyball, in cooperation with the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, gives you the top ten reasons to get excited about the host city for the 2010 AVCA Annual Convention. (photos courtesy KCCVA)
Hit the Pits
Barbecue has become synonymous with Kansas City. Since it evolved from the pit of Henry Perry around 1908, barbecue's pit masters have been producing the smoky delicacies that have attracted a worldwide following. Perry, who operated out of an old trolley barn in the legendary neighborhood near 18th and Vine, served slow-cooked ribs wrapped in newspaper for 25 cents a slab. Now more than 100 barbecue establishments offer their own versions of the "cue" in Kansas City.
The Mark of a Truman
Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, was raised in Independence, Mo., just outside of Kansas City. The Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, dedicated in July 1957, is one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The museum offers two floors of exhibits relating Truman's life and his presidency, which lasted from 1945 until 1953. Truman and his wife, Bess, were buried in the courtyard upon their deaths in 1972 and 1982, respectively.
Kansas City is home to three major professional sports teams: Major League Baseball's Royals, the National Football League's Chiefs, and Major League Soccer's Wizards. The Royals' Kauffman Stadium, with a 105-foot-tall, high definition scoreboard and giant fountains that cascade just beyond the outfield wall, is one of the best kept secrets in baseball. In downtown Kansas City, the new state-of-the-art Sprint Center, which has already hosted numerous NCAA events, opened to the public on October 10, 2007.
Located in downtown Kansas City, and home to the international headquarters of Hallmark Cards, Inc., the 85-acre Crown Center is frequently referred to as a "city within a city." Crown Center features three levels of shops, live music performances, the city's only public outdoor ice skating rink and several large fountains. The Coterie Theatre, one of Crown Center's three live entertainment venues, was recognized by Time as one of the top five children's theatres in the country.
One week after the new Sprint Center opened in October 2007, the Kansas City-based National Association of Basketball Coaches founded the 41,500-square-foot College Basketball Experience (CBE), which is connected to the arena via a common lobby. In addition to hands-on, high-energy, interactive basketball exhibits, the CBE houses the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Kansas City has hosted more NCAA Final Fours® than any other city (10), and the game's inventor, James Naismith, was the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas in nearby Lawrence.
Liberty and Art for All
The Liberty Memorial, located in downtown Kansas City, is a monument to the fallen soldiers of World War I. The National World War I Museum, opened in December 2006, is housed in the Liberty Memorial, and serves as the first American and only national museum dedicated to The Great War. One of America's most comprehensive general art museums, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2009. The museum features 34,500 items spanning more than 5,000 years, and a recently completed $200 million expansion and renovation project expanded the museum by 71 percent.
All Jazzed Up
The histories of Kansas City and jazz are intertwined, and no more so than the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, it is the Kansas City area's historic center of African-American culture, and the birthplace of Kansas City jazz. In addition to its cornerstones, the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the 18th and Vine district includes the Mutual Musicians Foundation, the Gem Theater, and the Blue Room jazz club, in addition to restaurants and apartments.
A Retail of Two Cities
The $850 million Power & Light District, adjacent to the Sprint Center, has reenergized downtown, with entertainment, retail and dining options for visitors and convention attendees. During the day, the district is a unique lunch and retail destination, then transforms into an exciting dining and entertainment experience in the evening. Country Club Plaza, located about six miles south of the convention center area, is 15 blocks of dining and entertainment with 150 shops and dozens of fine restaurants nestled within old-world architecture. In December during the AVCA Convention, the plaza will be dressed up with over 80 miles of holiday lights.
Kansas City, which has more fountains than any other city in the world except Rome, has been dubbed the City of Fountains. The importance of fountains in Kansas City may have started with the importance of water to the city's development. Since Kansas City is located at the intersection of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, many trailblazers arrived in the city by steamboat to begin their journeys west. Today, it's an unwritten policy that the design of major new public or commercial building projects includes a fountain.
Hanker for These Chefs
In addition to its barbeque, Kansas City has an array of award-winning and celebrity chefs on its menu. Debbie Gold, executive chef at The American Restaurant, is a winner of the James Beard Foundation "Best Chef: Midwest." Her menu for Crayola Café, a children's restaurant located in the Crown Center, was named the #1 Kids' Menu in America by Restaurant Hospitality. Chef Christopher Elbow operates Christopher Elbow's Artisan Chocolates, which has been featured in media outlets across the nation, from magazines like Oprah, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking and InStyle, to cable programs on the Food Network.