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Wal-Mart pulls convention from Kansas City

June 26, 2008

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— Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is planning to move its annual national managers meeting from Kansas City, taking away the city's largest annual convention.

The retail giant told city officials Tuesday that it was backing out of an informal promise to hold the meeting in Kansas City through 2012. Scheduled for two weeks in January, the meeting was expected to attract 8,000 people and generate almost $8 million in revenue for the local economy next year.

Convention officials laid most of the blame on the supply of hotel rooms downtown, which they said was no longer able to host large events. They said some Wal-Mart attendees were being placed in hotels 25 miles away from the Bartle Hall convention center.

They said they figured Wal-Mart would back out before 2012, but believed they had at least one more year.

"We thought we had them in '09," Bill Lucas, the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association chairman, told convention association board members Tuesday. "It's a blow to the hospitality industry and the food and beverage operations around town."

Wal-Mart, which has met in Kansas City since 1997, said in a written statement released through the association that it was grateful for the city's hospitality and would consider holding other gatherings in Kansas City in the future. But it said its mind was made up on moving the managers meeting.

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