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Nick’s Picks | Big 12 Tournament, KCI Traffic Snarls Busy Week Ahead in Kansas City

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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Unless you’re a huge basketball fan you may want to avoid downtown this week.  

The Big 12 tournament is rolling into Kansas City, bringing with it multiple road closures. Many of the streets around T-Mobile Center will begin shutting down today and will remain closed through the weekend. 

The men’s tournament starts Wednesday at T-Mobile Center. But KU and K-State won’t hit the floor until Thursday. That’s also when the women’s Big 12 tournament begins at Municipal Auditorium.  

In addition to the action on the court, there are street concerts, fun runs and fan events.  

Hip-hop icon Fat Joe will perform Friday evening. And NBA icon Shaquille O’Neal will perform a DJ set at the Kansas City Live! Block after the men’s final on Saturday night. 

A worker cleans a basketball court floor
Big 12 basketball returns to Kansas City this weekend. (Orrin Wagner | AP file)

Terminal Pains 

The Big 12 tournament will be the first big test for Kansas City’s new airport terminal as some of the conference’s far-flung teams, support staff, broadcasters and fans fly into town for the five-day event.  

After a smooth opening day, the airport is now being barraged with criticism over traffic congestion. 

Several news reports over the weekend complained of drivers having to wait up to an hour to reach the arrival curb. One passenger told the Kansas City Star that traffic was backed up at least two exits before the terminal. 

The head of the Aviation Department insists the problem is fixable once drivers understand they can no longer park at the curb as they did with the old terminal layout. In addition, KCI officials are now beefing up traffic control to keep vehicles moving. 

Register to Vote 

The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming local election is this Wednesday.  

In April, Kansas City voters will decide whether Quinton Lucas deserves four more years as mayor. They’ll also be deciding half the seats on the City Council. Some of its best-known members are leaving due to term limits. That means there will be an influx of fresh faces coming to City Hall.  

Voters will also decide whether to add a 3% tax on marijuana sales and new fees and taxes on short-term rental companies like Airbnb.  

More than 30 Missouri cities have added local marijuana taxes to this April’s ballot. 

Statehouse Watch 

Homeless ban: Months after the state of Missouri made it illegal for the homeless to sleep or camp on public land, Kansas lawmakers are now considering a copycat bill. The Kansas measure would also cut state funding to cities that refuse to comply with the ban. 

No more eviction moratoriums: Meanwhile in Jefferson City this week, the Missouri Senate is set to take up a measure banning local governments from halting evictions. It’s a response to eviction moratoriums put in place during the pandemic. The proposal is endorsed by landlord and realty groups. It passed the House last week.  

Parson flies away: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is leaving state lawmakers unsupervised this week. On Friday, Parson and the Missouri first-lady leave on a weeklong “trade mission” to Sweden and Germany. 

Honoring KC Jazz Giants 

There are few instantaneously recognizable jazz performers in Kansas City. This past week, Kansas City lost two of them.  

As part of the Folly Jazz series on Saturday night, acclaimed singer Oleta Adams will pay tribute to her friends Ida McBeth, who some called “The Queen of Kansas City Jazz” and Ronnie McFadden, the singer, saxophonist and tap-dancer who was half of the iconic pairing, The McFadden Brothers. 

McBeth died last week at the age 70 just as the local jazz community was coming to terms with McFadden’s death after a performance in downtown Kansas City. He was 66 years old. 

This Sunday at noon, scores of jazz artists are expected to attend a public “jam session” for McFadden at the Watkins Heritage Chapel, 4000 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. A celebration of McFadden’s life will follow at 2 p.m.  

Meanwhile, Ida McBeth will be laid to rest next Monday, March 13, during a service at Missionary Baptist Church, 2310 East Linwood Blvd.  

Visitation will be at 10 a.m. at the church. McBeth’s funeral will be at 11 a.m. 

KC Hate Crime 

Six years ago, Kansas City was in the national spotlight over a shocking hate crime killing.  

An Indian-born engineer working for Garmin had been shot to death at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe.  

Now his widow is at the center of a new movie that tracks how Indian workers are treated in the United States. It’s called “Alien,” and its world premiere is this Thursday night at the Glenwood Arts Theater in Overland Park. 

Tickets for the documentary and follow-up panel discussion are free. But you’re asked to register online to reserve your spot. 

And the Oscar Goes To… 

The Academy Awards are this weekend. 

After the slap heard around the world, the Oscars committee has hired a new team to handle real-time crises at the ceremony.  

It’s unclear what they’ll do to avoid an incident like last year when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on live TV, but the actors were warned. 

The 95th Academy Awards is this Sunday night, with late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel returning as host. 

Other Headlines 

Wednesday is International Women’s Day.  

Look for lots of news stories on why women still aren’t paid as much as men, why women are less likely to be represented in the C-suite and why women are largely absent from some huge sectors of the economy. 

While technology is revolutionizing our lives, women make up only 26% of tech-sector jobs. And according to labor figures, the percentage of women in all tech-related careers has decreased in the last two years. 

Here Comes Johnny 

A homicidal maniac stalks his terrified wife with an axe as he goes on an erratic, murderous rampage. 

It’s not Hollywood’s latest slasher horror flick. Believe it or not, it’s the latest production of the Kansas City Lyric Opera. 

We are going to be one of the first places in the country to see the opera version of “The Shining,” the Stephen King novel that was turned into one of the most terrifying films of all time.  

You can catch it starting this Saturday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  

Sporting KC Home Opener 

Have you noticed it’s going to be a busy Saturday night in Kansas City?  

It’s not just the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Final, Oleta Adams at The Folly and “The Shining” at the Kauffman Center. Also competing for your attention is Sporting KC’s home opener. 

Sporting takes on the L.A. Galaxy at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park. 

Get Ready for St. Patrick’s Day 

St. Patrick’s Day may not be until next week, but I’ve counted at least nine cities that are getting a head start on the holiday this weekend with floats, Irish dancers and bagpipes. 

This Saturday is North Kansas City’s Snake Parade, the Brookside St. Patrick’s Day Warm-Up Parade, the Emerald Isle Parade in Lee’s Summit, and events in downtown Overland Park and Belton

And if that wasn’t enough green, shamrocks, leprechauns and shenanigans you can do it all over again on Sunday at the Martin City St. Patrick’s Day Parade or the 39th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade through downtown Shawnee. 

North Kansas City hosts the Annual Snake Saturday Parade
North Kansas City hosts the Annual Snake Saturday Parade this week. (File Photo)

Clock Change 

Don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend. 

Before you head to bed Saturday night, you’ll want to set your clocks an hour later.  

Its Daylight Saving Time again.  

Yes, it means an hour less of sleep but a little more light and sunshine at the end of your workday. 

Nick Haines tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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