Although its nickname, for obvious reasons, is “The Little Apple,” big things that will impact the meetings industry are under way in Manhattan, Kansas.
According to Karen Hibbard, vice president of the Manhattan CVB, the downtown redevelopment district is set to reap the benefits of a $24 million project with the addition of the Flint Hills Discovery Museum April 14.
“The beauty of this facility is that there’s a couple of meeting rooms in it, but it’s about a half a block away from the nearest meeting venue [the Manhattan Conference Center, owned by the city], a new conference center with 32,200 square feet of space that just opened last November,” Hibbard says, adding that the conference complex includes a Hilton Garden Inn and a Fairfield Inn. “The conference center will add to our existing meeting venues, including a Clarion hotel with meeting space and a Holiday Inn at the Campus, which is across from Kansas State University.”
The city offers three full-service properties and a mix of limited-service properties, with a total of 1,179 sleeping rooms.
Hibbard says that many meetings will headquarter at the Holiday Inn at the Campus and use the ample meeting space available at the university, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year.
KSU facilities include McCain Auditorium, the cultural center of Manhattan that serves as a venue for traveling Broadway productions and can seat 1,797 people, and Bramlage Coliseum, a 14,000-seat facility that hosts major music events as well as the NCCA basketball Kansas State Wildcats.
The eight-largest city in the state, Manhattan often works in conjunction with neighbor Junction City, with an additional 1,200 sleeping rooms, and Fort Riley, home of the famed Big Red One Army division.
Apart from the manmade meetings infrastructure, Manhattan boasts a variety of natural attributes, including the 8,800-acre Konza Prairie Biology Station, with ample hiking and biking opportunities.
Another natural meetings attraction is Blue Earth Park, a football field-sized green space that was designed to be used year-round, with a limestone fireplace for warmth and covered sails for shelter during the warm months.
And while the Little Apple may not immediately conjure comparisons to its New York namesake, it also doesn’t quite fit into pre-conceived notions some may have of a flat state of Kansas.
“We’re located in the Flint Hills, and when you think about Kansas you probably don’t think about lush, rolling green hills,” Hibbard says. “Manhattan is a pleasant surprise.”