KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The last time Kansas City hosted a political convention was the Republican National Convention in 1976. With that kind of gathering come all sorts of good things: Excitement, money, national exposure to name a few. But there are other factors the may be of inconvenience KC residents, especially if you live, work, play or travel through downtown.
Kansas City has successfully hosted big events before. Just this year, 40,000 people were in town at the same time. The Big XII Tournament, St. Patrick’s Day and the Planet Comicon convention all converged on the metro at once, but the Republican National Convention is a whole different animal.
“We are talking about major political figures, possibly the next President and Vice President of the United States, so the risk of terrorism, the risk of demonstrators, the risk of someone doing violent actions to get attention is much higher than just the mere fact of having people here for another type of event,” said retired FBI agent Michael Tabman.
As the assistant agent in charge of the Kansas City FBI field office from 2000 to 2002, Tabman has been involved in many high-profile events.
“At this type of event, a national convention, the first and foremost concern would be terrorism,” he explained.
That means extra security led by the secret service and FBI, including a perimeter set up around parts of downtown.
“So you have to expect traffic to be interrupted in this area, you have to expect pedestrian traffic to be disrupted,” he said. “You will see the normal metal detectors, blockades, so someone just can’t storm in you know, making it hard for someone to get in whether it be a car or a person and you’ll know when you hit that perimeter.”
Linda Kicak, who works for our sister station KDVR in Denver, described what it was like there when the Democratic National Convention came to town in 2008.
“We had to park far away, within the perimeter,” she remembered.
The inconvenience did not deter the city from bidding for another national convention.
“I think that Denver made a name for itself [and is] in the running to do this again,” she said. “And I think we will also accept it in that Kansas City has so much to gain by having the convention here, so we’ll live with it.”
Of course most Kansas Citians are all hoping to beat Denver. City officials say while they are not releasing the details of the security plan, what they have presented to the RNC committee is one of the reasons Kansas City has made it this far.