Affordability, accessibility and proximity to the entertainment capital of the Midwest make Springfield, Mo., a catchy tune for planners who want small-town comfort combined with a fresh hotel inventory and college-town amenities.
“We have great facilities and they are affordable, and most of the hotels have been recently renovated,” says Dana Maugans, director of sales for the Springfield Missouri CVB, adding that the city welcomed a Hilton Garden Inn with meeting space last spring and its Ramada Oasis on the northeast side of town is adding 13,000 square feet of meeting space next spring, which will result in a total offering of 30,000 square feet with a 20,000-square-foot ballroom.
Maugans says Springfield typically welcomes SMERF and state association groups, regional conferences and amateur sporting events. (The city and its Hammons Field are home to the St. Louis Cardinals’ AA team, and Springfield is also home to John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts.)
Springfield is a big drive-to market, thus the regional-meeting popularity, and it also boasts a location not only in the middle of the country, but also about 40 minutes north of country and western entertainment mecca Branson. Many groups take advantage of this by scheduling evening trips to see a show, which the CVB can help arrange. Groups can also arrange for Branson performers to entertain at their events, according to Maugans.
Another advantage of Springfield is that it’s a college town, being home to Missouri State University, Drury University, Evangel University, Ozarks Technical Community College and others. And any town that is home to higher education typically boasts a full complement of arts, entertainment and dining options to cater to the college crowd.
The main convention area downtown offers up lots of locally owned restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques, and the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center, with 271 guest rooms and 39,000 square feet of space, sits about two blocks away. The Springfield Expo Center, located across the street, contains 112,000 square feet of space.
Other meetings and conventions hotels include the aforementioned Ramada Oasis and Convention Center, which has 173 rooms, as well as Doubletree, Holiday Inn and Courtyard properties.
And, according to Maugans, recent groups such as Studebaker International, the Central Association of Physical Plant Administrators and the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. had plenty to do when enjoying the generally festive atmosphere in this southern Missouri town.
“There’s always an event,” she says. “Every weekend there’s an event in Springfield.”