Mayor Sly James and local leaders joined today to honor former Mayor Kay Barnes for her eight years of service and transformative work to redevelop the city’s downtown. Officials dedicated the Kansas City Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom in her honor as the Kay Barnes Grand Ballroom and honored her with the statue “Woman Walking Tall,” by renowned artist Tom Corbin.
“Kay Barnes laid the foundation for the revival of a depressed and stagnant downtown,” said Mayor Sly James. “She built coalitions, assembled the land, led the development, and crafted a vision that we are still building on today. When it would have been easier to succumb to political pressure, she showed great leadership and tenacity in doing what she knew was in the best interest of Kansas City.”
During her administration from 1999 to 2007, Barnes’ leadership resulted in the development of anchor projects like the Sprint Center and the Power and Light District. By the end of her time in office, her initiatives had secured over $4.5 billion in public and private investment in downtown Kansas City, laying the groundwork for later development including the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the KC Streetcar.
“The collaborative, bold vision of Mayor Kay Barnes has undoubtedly transformed downtown Kansas City and the Midwest for future generations,” said Brenda Tinnen, general manager and senior vice president of Sprint Center/AEG Kansas City. “Mayor Barnes’ inspired leadership energized the culture of cooperation throughout our community, and the fruits of her labor may be seen across the city skyline from the H&R Block World Headquarters to the River Market through the Crossroads District and especially at Sprint Center, where her diligence set the stage for a renaissance in the heartland.”
Barnes also has the distinction of being Kansas City’s first female mayor. She has supported women’s empowerment throughout her public service and as a founding member of the Central Exchange, which provides personal and professional development opportunities to women in Kansas City.
Her role as a pioneer for women in local politics inspired the choice of the statue dedicated in her honor, “Woman Walking Tall.” The statue by renowned artist Tom Corbin sits outside of the newly-dedicated Kay Barnes Grand Ballroom in the Kansas City Convention Center, which hosts approximately 90 events to over 150,000 attendees each year.
“Honoring Kay Barnes and the work she did for Kansas City is long overdue,” said Herbert Kohn, senior counsel at Bryan Cave and close advisor to Mayor Barnes. “She set downtown on a new course which, in turn, caused the City to leap ahead. She was, and still is, the epitome of a ‘Woman Walking Tall.’”
The Mayor’s office recognized the donors to the statue and the Kay Barnes Grand Ballroom naming: AEG, The Cordish Companies, Tim Leiweke-The Oak View Group, KCP&L, H&R Block, Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Populous, Ecco Select, Downtown Council, Irvin & Sue Belzer, W. Perry & Elizabeth Brandt, Wesley Fields, Laurence Frazen, Elaine & Steven Koch, Herb & Nancy Kohn, Gino & Paetra Serra, Stephen Sparks, Robert & Cynthia Thompson, Thomas VanDyke, and Traci & Ken Wittrock.
About Tom Corbin
Tom Corbin is a local artist, who specializes in bronze sculpture and has earned international recognition. Tom’s work appears in 22 showrooms and galleries internationally. Individual collectors include Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Danielle Steel and the late Frank Sinatra. Public installation sites include the United Nations, The Kauffman Foundation, the Firefighter’s Memorial, the Children’s Fountain, University of Oregon and Florida State University. In addition to important public and private collections, his work has found its way onto the sets of some major motion pictures, among them True Lies, A Perfect Murder, It’s Complicated and Transformers.