Downtown to get its ‘Backyard’ back!

LiveKC is coming together with a number of community partners, including the Downtown Council, this summer to transform Barney Allis Plaza into Kansas City’s best backyard complete with regular programs, art, food trucks a beer garden and more…

LiveKC and numerous partners are transforming one of Downtown Kansas City’s precious public spaces into a shared urban backyard for the summer. Located in the center of Downtown Kansas City and at the front door of some of the area’s busiest hotels, Barney Allis Plaza has an opportunity to become a bustling town square.

The Backyard at Barney Allis Plaza is a placemaking concept designed to bring together a refreshed look and vibrant energy to the park. The concept includes amenities such as food trucks and a beer garden, plus imaginative programs such as leisure sports, art, and music, all with the goal of adding more vibrancy to the downtown area.

“One of the most appealing things about cities like Denver, Portland and Austin is the fact that you see people everywhere,” said Erik Wullschleger, director of LiveKC. “Adding some basic programs that give people a reason to come over to Barney Allis Plaza will help build density in a very important part of our city.”

This summer will be an opportunity to test and learn from a number of concepts that could lead to permanent improvements over the long term. Food trucks, a beer garden, community artwork, recreational sports and new seating surfaces are just some of the first improvements visitors to The Backyard will get to take advantage of.

And, beginning last night, a competitive “Leisure Sports League” will kick off and run every Thursday at 5 p.m. for the next six weeks. While registration for this session is full, all are invited each Thursday evening for pick-up leisure sports games on designated open courts.

There will be an official preview event on Friday, June 5. The happy hour will begin at 5 p.m. and is a great way to kick off First Friday plans Downtown. This will be an opportunity to view proposed changes and add suggestions on how to further transform Barney Allis Plaza. Visitors will also have the opportunity to eat from food trucks, enjoy beverages from the beer garden and play lawn sports against friends.

Programs will continue to roll out over the summer but the community can already start to see what’s coming up and provide their input at www.livekc.org/the-backyard or on LiveKC’s Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

LiveKC will contribute funding and staffing that will be required for a number of the programs this summer but many of the permanent improvements are made possible by the newly available money from the City Trust.

A private donation was made in the early ‘80s to commemorate the life of Dutton Brookfield.  The “Bronco Buster” statue located on the north end of the plaza was purchased but this money earmarked for improvements to Barney Allis Plaza has gone unused for the last 30 years.

Through the collaboration of a number of local design and construction firms, downtown residents, workers and visitors can expect to see a reinvigorated park over the next 3-12 months.

About Barney Allis Plaza

Barney Allis Plaza is located to the south of the Downtown Marriott and north of the Municipal Auditorium between 12th & 13th streets. Built on the site of Kansas City’s original Convention Hall and located in the center of downtown, Barney Allis Plaza has been the site of many public gatherings including enormous Cinco De Mayo festivals, parades commemorating Elvis and even a professional tennis team.

In recent years, this plaza that is one of the downtown district’s precious few green spaces has been overlooked. People retreating from downtown in search of their own backyard found refuge in suburban neighborhoods and slowly what was once an active park turned into a passthrough for visitors to get from their hotel to the convention center.

Barney Allis Plaza is easily accessible on foot from all four corners, has a MAX Rapid Transit stop, a B Cycle station on the east side and sits atop nearly 1,000 parking spaces.

About LiveKC

LiveKC was founded in 2013 and aims to make Kansas City a more attractive place for Millennials to live, work and play. LiveKC is a privately funded organization managed out of Sporting Club and supported by 19 of the largest employers in the Kansas City region. For more information, visit LiveKC.org or follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.