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Nick’s Picks | Royals Opening Day and Prepping the NFL Draft April Fools' Day on Saturday

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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

The parking lot right outside of Union Station will close starting today as Kansas City prepares for the NFL Draft. 

Union Station’s south side lot will be transformed into a football-field sized stage, which organizers say will be the largest in NFL Draft history. It will take five weeks to build. 

Union Station will close the week before the draft, set to begin April 27. NFL prospects and their families will sit and wait in a newly designed lounge space inside the grand plaza of Union Station. 

As many as 500,000 visitors are expected to converge downtown for one of professional football’s biggest showcases.  

The three-day event is free to the public and includes lots of wrap-around events like autograph signing sessions with some of the NFL’s biggest stars, an interactive football theme park and concerts. 

While free, you do need to register in advance on the NFL’s OnePass app. 

Last Week, Reviewed

Royals Opening Day 

The Kansas City skyline will turn blue this week as we mark the start of baseball season. 

Opening day is this Thursday as the Kansas City Royals take on the Minnesota Twins. The first pitch is at 3:15 p.m. 

The Royals are also hosting a free event at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday where you’re invited to watch the team workout. 

In addition to seeing the players on the field, there will be a DJ playing music, the concessions stands will be open and so will the team store. 

While there’s no cost to attend or to park, you will still need a ticket to enter Kauffman Stadium.  

Kauffman Stadium
The Kansas City Royals’ home opener is Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. 26. (Contributed)

KC Current Home Opener 

The Royals are not the only team marking “opening day” this week.  

It’s also the KC Current home opener at Children’s Mercy Park.  

The Current take on the Portland Thorns this Saturday at 11:50 a.m. 

March Madness or Sadness? 

Will you continue to watch March Madness now that every local team has been eliminated from the tournament? 

K-State’s dream season ended over the weekend leaving no regional schools left in the tournament. 

The Final Four is this Saturday in Houston, pitting Miami against Connecticut and Florida Atlantic against San Diego State. 

Perhaps the only local tie-in is that the Kansas City based sports architecture firm Populous designed NRG Stadium, where those games will be held.  

When it’s not hosting college basketball’s biggest event, it’s the home of the Houston Texans. It was the first NFL stadium built with a retractable roof. 

The men’s championship game is next Monday night. 

The top two schools in women’s basketball face off Sunday afternoon in Dallas. 

Trans Ban 

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says he’s now worried the city could start “losing residents and some major events” after Missouri lawmakers advanced a ban on transgender athletes in women’s sports.  

A similar measure was vetoed by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly a week ago. 

But Missouri lawmakers have gone one step further by also banning most medical procedures for transgender minors. 

Both measures have already passed the Missouri Senate and will be debated in the Missouri House this week. Governor Parson is expected to sign the measures into law. 

Also in Jefferson City this week, a bill legalizing sports betting is getting closer to the governor’s desk. If passed in the Missouri Senate this week, it will allow casinos to partners with up to three sports betting operators. The Chiefs and the Royals will also get a cut of the action. Both sports franchises would be allowed to partner with gaming companies. 

Abortion in Kansas 

Abortion is back on the agenda in Kansas this week. 

Seven months after voters rejected the “Value Them Both” amendment, the Kansas Supreme Court will consider whether abortion should be a guaranteed right in the state constitution.  

The seven-member court is responding to several legal challenges to its 2019 ruling on the matter. The justices will hear oral arguments today. 

While the court is unlikely to change its position on abortion overall, it could offer more clarity to lawmakers on what restrictions to the procedure may be permissible. 

Countdown to Election Day 

Advanced voting continues this week ahead of next Tuesday’s local municipal elections.  

On April 4, 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 term limited. That means there will be plenty 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. 

If you’re confused or befuddled about what you’re voting for, we take you through the ballot and what’s at stake on our “Week in Review” program, Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS. 

Also joining us will be the only candidate willing to challenge Mayor Lucas, maverick transit activist Clay Chastain. 

Pink Slips at Cerner 

Hundreds of employees at Cerner will be clearing out their desks this week, as the health care tech company announces another big round of layoffs. 

According to the Kansas City Business Journal, the area’s largest private employer could be cutting up to 10% of its workforce.  

Cerner was recently bought by the Texas-based computer software giant, Oracle.  

The company has 11,900 full-time workers in the Kansas City area.  

A number of those employees have been posting on social media that they have been called into impromptu meetings and notified that their employment will end this Friday. 

In October, Cerner announced it was selling its headquarters in North Kansas City and moving all employees to its south Kansas City campus. 

The former Cerner Corp. headquarters in North Kansas City.
The former Cerner Corp. headquarters in North Kansas City. (File Photo: Elana Gordon | KCUR)

Twitter Changes 

Elon Musk insists it’s not an April Fools’ joke, but the Twitter CEO has picked April Fools’ Day this Saturday to make a major change.  

That’s the day Musk says he will remove the coveted blue “verified” checkmark from all accounts that don’t pay $8 a month for the company’s new Twitter Blue subscription service. 

Before Musk acquired the company, Twitter used checkmarks as a kind of “seal of approval” for reporters, celebrities, political leaders and other notable accounts of interest. Verified checkmarks were doled out for free. 

Planetary Parade 

Heads up—a rare alignment of five planets will be visible in the night sky over Kansas City this week, but Tuesday evening will be your best bet.  

Just head outside right after sunset, and you’ll see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Uranus all lined up in an arc shape, right next to the moon. 

 You won’t need binoculars or a telescope to see it. 

Zambezi Zinger Debut 

This is your last call if you want to be the first to ride the new Zambezi Zinger roller coaster at Worlds of Fun. The Kansas City theme park opens for its 50th season next week.  

If you donate $10 to Big Slick, you could be one of 32 people to ride the re-imagined coaster before anyone else. An earlier version of the Zambezi Zinger was a favorite at the park before it was torn down in 1997. 

The contest closes on Sunday.  

Celebrity Sightings 

Be on the lookout this week for Yo-Yo Ma. The famous cellist performs at the Folly Theater on Friday night. 

David Brooks will also be in town. The New York Times columnist and PBS Newshour contributor speaks at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, as part of the Rockhurst University Leadership Series

And forget March Madness. We’ve got the most magical team in all of basketball visiting Kansas City this week. The Harlem Globetrotters bring their athleticism, theater and comedy antics to T-Mobile Center on Saturday. Oh yes, they’ll be taking on the Washington Generals, who have not defeated the Globetrotters in more than 50 years of matchups. Go figure.  

Want to place a bet with me on the Generals winning this weekend? 

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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