By Kevin Collison
Union Station kicked off its new Haverty Family Yards outdoor entertainment venue last weekend with a soulful performance by Anderson East and his band backed by rolling freight trains and a dramatic view of downtown Kansas City.
The inaugural show Saturday night attracted about 350 people to the grassy field next to the historic Union Station terminal by the planetarium. With the trains passing by, it was reminiscent of Knuckleheads, an East Bottoms landmark also next to the tracks, but more sanitized and scenic.
“I think we have a winner on our hands for the right concerts and activities,” said George Guastello, Union Station president and CEO. “I was very pleased it worked as designed. It’s got to be one of the prettier views, overlooking downtown.”
Nashville-based Anderson East was joined by local rockers Chris Meck & The Guilty Birds in a show connected to the Maker’s Faire weekend event at Union Station. It was promoted by 90.9 FM The Bridge public radio. Several food trucks also were on hand, and beer, wine and cocktails were available.
Next month, the Yards will host several Fringe Festival events. The evenings of July 21, 22, 28 and 29 feature “Late Night On The Fringe” with live bands from 9 p.m. to midnight. The Fringe Closing Party will be held there the evening of July 30. All are open to the public with a Fringe Button.
The new venue is part of a major redevelopment of the area on the west side of Union Station between the parking garage and Science City. A new outdoor Science City exhibit recently opened and Haverty Family Yards lies next to it on property that had been a concrete parking lot.
The Yards has a capacity of 1,500- to 2,000 people and can be expanded. Guastello said Union Station hopes it attracts a variety of events including concerts, weddings and corporate gatherings.
“It has all of the options and my hope is more promoters will want to utilize it,” he said. “We’ll do some of our own, but I’m not in the business of being a concert promoter.”
He does envision the space eventually as being used for family events on First Fridays. The venue, which is named in honor of former Kansas City Southern executive and Union Station board chairman Michael Haverty, is next to the pedestrian bridge that links Union Station with the Crossroads.