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Nick’s Picks | ‘Life-Threatening’ Heat, Royals Stadium News 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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6 minute read

Dangerous “life-threatening” heat is going to define Kansas City this week. 

We’re dialing up the oven from bake to broil with temperatures in the triple digits through Thursday night. 

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning and is urging people to stay indoors and for outdoor events to be canceled or postponed.  

Our local weather forecasters say “feel-like” temperatures could exceed 120 degrees. And unlike other bouts of excessive heat this year there are no occasional showers and thunderstorms to cool things down. 

On Saturday, the National Weather Service reported that Manhattan, Kansas, was the hottest place in America.  

Kansas City has already been shattering its own records.  

Saturday’s 118-degree heat index was the highest ever recorded in the city

Royals Stadium Update  

The Kansas City Royals have scheduled a Tuesday news conference to present a clearer picture of new ballpark plans.  

Owner John Sherman is expected to release updated stadium renderings and more detailed economic numbers for the two sites under consideration.  

One of the proposed locations is in North Kansas City, and the other is in the East Village, a largely neglected stretch of land east of City Hall. 

Last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred visited Kansas City and lauded both potential sites as world-class.  

Sherman has promised to announce his final site selection at the end of the summer, which falls on Saturday, Sept 23. 

John Sherman at a press conference where he expressed frustration about the pace of negotiations for a proposed new downtown ballpark.
John Sherman at a press conference where he expressed frustration about the pace of negotiations for a proposed new downtown ballpark. (Kevin Collison | CityScene)

Closing Downtown Airport? 

Is Kansas City making plans to close its downtown airport? 

Before you channel John McEnroe’s famous line, “You cannot be serious,” it’s apparently on the wish list of City Manager Brian Platt. 

According to a front-page story in the Kansas City Star, Platt is threatening to shut down the Charles B. Wheeler airport because it’s seriously hampering the city’s development plans. 

Platt claims construction of at least a half dozen high-rise projects have been stalled because the Federal Aviation Administration says they would interfere with the airport’s flight paths. 

While the idea may sound preposterous, several cities have shuttered their downtown airports in the last few decades, including Chicago. 

You can expect to hear lots of debate about the issue this week. 

The downtown airport is favored by corporate leaders as well as big-time celebrities coming into town.  

Platt insists there’s plenty of space for all those corporate jets at Kansas City International Airport, which has a new terminal and room for expansion. 

4-Day School Week 

Eight months after the Independence School Board voted to enact a four-day school week, we’ll finally get a chance to see how it all works this week. 

The “slimmed-down calendar” experiment officially gets underway on Tuesday. 

As most Missouri school districts begin a new school year today, students in the Independence District get to sleep in. Mondays are now a free day for students. 

More than 150 districts in Missouri are already operating on a four-day schedule, but Independence is by far the largest district to make the change. 

Independence Superintendent Dale Herl says the district is adding 35 minutes to each school day, so the amount of instructional time won’t alter much from last year. 

He says the district decided to make the change to help recruit and retain teachers. 

Also hitting the books this week are our college students.  

Students at the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Johnson County Community College all head back to the classroom today. 

Presidential Debate 

The first Republican presidential debate is this Wednesday night in Milwaukee.  

Absent from the debate stage will be GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump. 

The former president has chosen to skip the exchange and upstage his rivals by sitting for an online interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. 

Trump won’t be the only one trying to divert attention from the debate. So will President Joe Biden. He travels to Maui with first lady Jill Biden today. They’ll view damage from the recent wildfires and meet with first responders, survivors and government officials.  

The first couple is leaving just as another natural disaster is unfolding on the California coast. The state is being pummeled with its first tropical storm in 84 years. Some towns have seen more rain in the last few hours than they usually see all year.  

Hundreds of flights out of Las Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix have been canceled or delayed, and many of California school districts have canceled classes today. 

As Hilary rained down on Southern California, a 5.1-magnitude earthquake shook the area, though no major damage was immediately reported. 

Auto Workers Strike Vote 

Thousands of Kansas City auto workers could vote to walk off the job this week. 

If a strike is approved, it could shut down production at the Ford Assembly Plant in Claycomo and the General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, next month. 

It’s part of a national labor dispute. The 150,000-member United Auto Workers union is challenging Detroit’s Big Three automakers over pay, health and pension benefits. They also want assurances from management that workers in new electric vehicle plants will be offered the same compensation and job security as those in the gasoline era. 

Keen to avoid a strike, President Biden has urged both sides to forge a deal. 

One analysis claims an auto workers strike could cost $5 billion in just 10 days, clobbering an industry that contributes about 3% of the nation’s gross domestic product. 

Jackson County Jail 

Anger over property assessments has consumed Jackson County government for months. 

It’s also diverted attention from another contentious county issue: the new jail. 

Back in April, county lawmakers were talking about hitting the pause button on the $300 million project after learning of massive cost overruns. There was even talk of scaling back the project or putting the jail on the ballot for a public vote. 

So, what happened? 

This week, we’re going to get an update. 

Later today, members of the Kansas City Council will meet with Jackson County lawmakers to get a progress report on the jail’s construction. They are also keen to find out whether there’s still space to house Kansas City detainees in the new facility.  

Currently, the city is spending millions transporting municipal offenders to rural jails. 

The new building will replace the downtown detention center that is now “functionally obsolete.” 

It’s being built on the site of a former mobile home park, a few miles north of the Truman Sports Complex.  

It was originally expected to be completed in 2025. 

Housing Petitions in Prairie Village 

The clash over affordable housing in Prairie Village heads to a Kansas courtroom this week. 

A Johnson County judge is expected to rule on three citizen petitions designed to halt zoning changes that would accelerate the building of apartments and multi-family housing in the city. 

A group of homeowners wants to add the measures to this November’s ballot for voters to decide. 

Prairie Village has become ground zero in an increasingly contentious battle over housing in the metro. 

In addition to limiting rezoning, one of the petitions would limit the power of the mayor in Prairie Village. A second would halve the 12-member council, automatically ejecting six members from their seats. 

American Jazz Museum 

There’s another shake-up underway at the American Jazz Museum. 

Executive Director Rashida Phillips has stepped down after just three years at the 18th & Vine District attraction. 

A museum press release says an interim leader will take over, effective today. 

Dinah Bennett has been serving as the attraction’s deputy director. She is a former head curator at the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville. 

Bennett will be the American Jazz Museum’s fourth leader in seven years. 

Arrowhead Stadium.
Arrowhead Stadium. (Clarence Dennis)

Week in Sports 

The Kansas City Chiefs play their final and only preseason home game this weekend. 

It will be the first time the team has taken the field at Arrowhead Stadium since they won the AFC Conference Championship back in January.  

The Chiefs host the Cleveland Browns on Saturday at noon. 

In other sports news… 

This Saturday is throwback night at Children’s Mercy Park.  

Sporting KC is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2013 MLS Cup championship win with a free fan giveaway of commemorative pennants and posters, ahead of a 7:30 p.m. game against the San Jose Earthquakes. 

Some of the team’s biggest stars from yesteryear will also make appearances, including Matt Besler, Jimmy Nielsen and Graham Zusi.

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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