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Hyatt Hotels won’t give to fatal collapse memorial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hyatt Hotels Corp. has said it won’t contribute to a planned memorial for the 1981 skywalks collapse that killed 114 people attending a dance at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City.

Rusty Macy, general manager of the hotel when it was the Hyatt Regency Crown Center, said the hotel decided against contributing because Hyatt has left Kansas City and the hotel is now a Sheraton, according to The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/vmTBxx ). Hyatt operated the hotel at the time of the collapse and when management recently changed to Sheraton. The Sheraton Crown Center opened Dec. 1.

The collapse occurred during a dance that drew about 1,500 people to the Hyatt Regency. A fourth-floor skywalk gave way, falling on a second-floor skywalk. Then both dropped about 45 feet into the crowded lobby. The collapse killed 114 people and injured more than 200.

Crown Center Redevelopment Corp., which owns the hotel where the skywalks collapsed, announced the management change after the 30th anniversary of the disaster on July 17 this year. Macy, who is now general manager of the Hyatt Regency Inside Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, announced the decision not to contribute to the memorial in a letter to Brent Wright, a member of the skywalk foundation board.

“We are disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to continue to operate the hotel and as such, Hyatt will not be making a donation to the Skywalk Memorial,” Macy said. “We appreciate the opportunity and wish the Foundation only the best in achieving its goals to open the memorial.”

The Hallmark Corporate Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Crown Center’s parent company, has donated $25,000 and pledged another $25,000 toward the memorial.

Frank Freeman, foundation board president, said the foundation needs to raise about $230,000 for the memorial, which is planned at a park site about a block northwest of the hotel. He said the board hopes to begin construction in the spring and have the memorial in place by the 31st anniversary. The board broke ground at the memorial site earlier this year. There were previous attempts to build a memorial, but they never gained momentum.

“We’re extremely disappointed by the decision,” Freeman said. “We were led to believe there would be a donation. We are completely stunned and shocked that the Hyatt left town without any kind of donation and did not even say a word about the memorial.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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