KANSAS CITY -- After years of losing big convention business to other cities, Kansas City leaders were celebrating Thursday, because the Veterans of Foreign Wars announced that Kansas City will be the site of its national convention in 2018. City officials say the meeting will provide a big boost for the economy.
The VFW convention is expected to bring more than 10,000 visitors to the metro area in 2018.
"2018 is also going to be a centennial celebration for World War I," said Mayor Sly James. "We will have visitors not only from the VFW, but we will also have visitors from around the the entire world."
The VFW convention alone is expected to generate as much as $6.5 million. Kansas City beat out 11 other cities to land this big piece of tourism business. It's the third largest convention scheduled in Kansas City for 2018.
The VFW is known for attracting some high profile speakers. Presidents and presidential candidates have spoken before the veteran's group during its national conventions.
"With mass transit and the streetcar (project) going on, I believe convention goers will have a great opportunity to see many parts of our city during their stay," said Jon Stephens, interim director of the Greater Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association.
Kansas City has been losing convention business of considerable size to other cities, in part because the City of Fountains lacked the necessary hotel rooms within walking distance of downtown. The convention and visitors association said VFW members will be staying all over the metro area as a result.
VFW members tend to be older, but they'll be able to take advantage of Kansas City's new streetcar line, which is expected to be up and running by 2018. This will also enable the conventioneers who are staying downtown to get out and explore other areas of the city without the hassle of driving the metro's expressways.