Jan. 18–It's been a long time coming, but construction on Kansas City's new convention hotel has an official start date.

Alex Tisch, vice president of Loews Corporation, said Thursday that Jan. 22 is the construction start date, marking the first sign of tangible progress on the $325 million, 800-room Loews-operated hotel since it was announced in May 2015.

"We closed the transaction (Thursday)," Tisch said. "The bonds, the equity, the bank loan, and the capital is funded. We are now moving forward with the property."

Tisch said a ceremonial groundbreaking will be held at a later date. His cousin, Jonathan Tisch, co-chairman of the Loews Corporation board of directors and co-owner of the New York Giants, is expected in Kansas City for the formal groundbreaking.

Plans are to open the hotel in March 2020. Tisch hopes to have it running by the time Kansas City hosts the 2020 Big 12 basketball tournament.

Tisch said the structure of the hotel project's financing remained substantially the same after a string of deals occurred to close the financial transaction.

"The bank loan remained the same, the bonds remained roughly the same," Tisch said.

The Loews hotel will be Kansas City's first new convention hotel since 1985. That was the year The Vista opened; it later became what is today the downtown Marriott.

Loews replaced Hyatt as the operator of the forthcoming convention hotel last year after a series of delays on the project. The hotel was supposed to open in 2018, but real estate disputes, litigation over the public financing of the project and other problems stalled progress on the hotel.

"We'd love to be open for the Big 12" tournament in March 2020, Tisch said. "We will have much better sense as the year goes on."

Either way, the 2020 opening will be enough to keep Kansas City's commitment to the Shriners Imperial Session in July 2020, a gathering of 20,000 Shriners.