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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • KC Union Station planning teleconferencing center

  •      A frustrating breakdown of the Extreme Screen at Union Station in Kansas City could become a big boost for regional businesses and educators under a plan being developed by station officials.


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  •      A frustrating breakdown of the Extreme Screen at Union Station in Kansas City could become a big boost for regional businesses and educators under a plan being developed by station officials.
         The Extreme Screen, which is 76 feet wide and 55 feet high, broke down in mid-March, two weeks into the run of James Cameron's "Ghosts of the Abyss," which was to coincide with a Titanic exhibit at the station. Rather than fix the bulky projection system, Union State plans to renovate the area into a high-tech teleconferencing center that also could host live events and a learning laboratory.
         The plans are already drawing enthusiastic support, The Kansas City Star reported Friday.
         "We're very excited for our members, who will be able to use that space to demonstrate their products, host events and communicate around the world with 3D capabilities on a really large screen," said Ryan Weber, president of KCnext. The organization, also called the Technology Council of Greater Kansas City, has 81 members, from small startups to Google, Garmin and Cerner.
         The Kansas City Area Development Council is also supportive.
         "This is fabulous news to us," said ADC President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Marcusse. "We envision it becoming far more than a conventional asset, with the latest and greatest technology that is available. Anything that puts us on the cutting edge as we sell Kansas City is all to the good."
         Union Station CEO George Guastello believes the screen could attract international participants, with a Kansas City host on stage, interacting with an audience of 400 people in the theater. And they would all be using high band-width, streaming capabilities. The space also could be used for meetings, catered events and live performances, as well as community watch parties of major events.
         The initial conversion to install digital projectors will cost an estimated $350,000. Goppert Foundation of Kansas City made a $150,000 challenge grant and Union Station hope to surpass that amount within a few months.
         Then the station would seek a partner to add high-speed Internet capabilities, said Jerry Baber, chief financial officer for Union Station, and that platform could be used to develop a "21st Century Learning Lab."
         "We want the digital projectors now that will feed the next two levels," said Baber, adding that the teleconferencing center and learning lab could be in place in two or three years.
         Union Station board Chairman Mike Haverty said the repurposed theater fits the station's business plan.
         "Union Station is Kansas City's civic center and is constantly alive with activity that attracts many people from the region and visitors to our city," Haverty said. "Establishing a new digital, large-screen theater will be one more tremendous asset that Union Station can offer to the community."
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