Within mere days after the Missouri voters approved Amendment 3 to legalize adult-use cannabis, an ambitious entertainment district project is unfolding. Gladstone, Missouri-based Besa Hospitality Group announced on Nov. 9 a new “cannabis entertainment district” to open along the Missouri River, serving people who live in the Kansas City metro area.
The multimillion-dollar project will be dubbed the Smokey River Entertainment District. The website features a countdown to April 20, 2023.
“We have an opportunity to showcase cannabis and the acceptance of cannabis in our everyday lives. We’re normalizing cannabis through hospitality,” Joey Pintozzi, Vice President of Operations and Marketing told CBS affiliate KC TV 5. “This is an entertainment venue first and foremost. Cannabis just happens to be part of that experience. People will be free to legally consume in some of the venues and enjoy being themselves.”
Fox 4 reports that Pintozzi joined entrepreneur Jack Mitchell, and both are already involved in Missouri’s medical cannabis industry. Developers expect the first phase to cost around $30-50 million to get things started. Future development that could bring the total cost much higher.
The concept will include an amphitheater, two indoor entertainment venues with capacity levels that range from 500 to 2,000 people, festival grounds, food and beverage concepts, corporate event spaces, and wedding sites.
Smokey River Entertainment District is about 20 minutes away from downtown Kansas City in the village of River Bend. The multi-use space will provide the local area with thousands of jobs and host some of the top names in music, comedy, and the arts according to developers.
The effort is a joint project with BesaMe Wellness, a medical cannabis dispensary in the state. Last Tuesday, voters in the state approved Amendment 3 with a 53% voting in favor of regulating adult-use cannabis.
“This is an incredible opportunity for ALL communities,” said Jack Mitchell, CEO of the Besa Group of Companies. “More than amphitheater and entertainment venues, this facility will help us develop the region’s music, hospitality, cannabis and culture economies together.”
The project will roll out in two phases: The first will open in the spring of 2023 and will include the festival grounds, food and beverage concepts, and a 1,500-seat live music venue.
The second phase will open in the spring of 2024 and will include the Smokey River Amphitheatre which will feature a 14,000-person capacity.
“Welcome to the Smokey River Entertainment District,” the website reads. “A first of its kind in the nation multi-use development where you have the freedom to be yourself. Nestled along the banks of the mighty Missouri river just 20 minutes east of downtown Kansas City, we invite you to come out and experience what the future of night life and entertainment holds. From private events, concerts, dining, leisure, and one of a kind experiences – we’re hosting it all. Be on the lookout for upcoming events and announcements, and don’t forget to follow us on social media as well as join our mailing list for the latest information. Grab your paddle and double check your maps. We’ll see you downstream.
Similar efforts to establish a cannabis village take place in West Hollywood, California, where cannabis consumption lounges are approved. The geographically small city plans to rebrand itself as a cannabis mecca, or as “Emerald Village”—a name coined by a cannabis trade group of the same name.