Here is a tall order: accommodations and meeting space for 950, with an indoor equestrian training ring close by.
That is the annual challenge of the United States Dressage Federation as it takes its convention and symposium to different cities across the country. In 2006, it found an especially successful partner in the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Kansas City.
Dressage is a French term that means “training,” and it is a classic system of training that develops a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform. The nonprofit USDF promotes and encourages dressage, primarily through educational programs for its 33,000 members.
The 2006 USDF convention portion included traditional educational lectures, seminars, and committee meetings for the attendees; Kansas City's Westin Crown Center was the headquarters hotel, providing meeting and guest rooms. The symposium portion, which hosted about a dozen dressage horses and two visiting European dressage authorities, was at Hale Arena, just 2.3 miles from the Westin.
Hale Arena is no stranger to equestrian events. Each autumn it hosts the American Royal, an eight week season of rodeos, livestock shows, equestrian events, agricultural activities and barbecue competitions. “Direct rental of Hale Arena would have been cost-prohibitive for us,” explains Regine Scheck-Seberger, the USDF events consultant, “but we were able to work through the American Royal.” For example, the USDF always convenes the weekend following Thanksgiving, which meant that the American Royal's dirt footing for the horses was still in place in Hale Arena, resulting in a cost savings for the USDF.
“Many cities can provide convention and equestrian facilities, but not many can provide both of them reasonably close to each other,” Scheck-Seberger continues. “The convention and visitors bureau got involved to keep the process moving along, getting everything put into writing from both sides.”