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Nick’s Picks | Spring Break, St. Patrick’s Day and NCAA Tournament

Plenty of Distractions This Week in KC

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)

Traffic should be a lot lighter around town this week.  You’re also likely to see far fewer faces around the office.

It’s spring break for scores of colleges and school districts, on both sides of our state line.

And with no snow in the forecast and temperatures in the 70s by midweek, it’s likely a lot of other Kansas Citians will find a reason to escape the workplace.

St. Patrick’s Day Parades

Organizers are expecting large crowds this week for Kansas City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The city’s biggest Irish celebration has been canceled for the past two years because of the pandemic.

The parade gets underway at 11 a.m. on Thursday. It begins at the intersection of Linwood Boulevard and Broadway and slowly moves down Broadway to Westport.

Due to last week’s snow storm, several other St. Patrick’s Day parades have been rescheduled for this week. 

The Emerald Isle Parade in Lee’s Summit is now set for this Saturday at noon.

Last week’s winter weather has also pushed back Brookside’s St. Patrick’s Day “Warm-up” Parade to this weekend. It’s now set for this Saturday at 1 p.m.

But if it’s happening after St. Patrick’s Day, is it still a “Warm-up” parade?

Is it now technically a St. Paddy’s Day “Cool Down” Parade?

There’s no word from organizers on any plans to rename the event.

Let the Madness Begin

Competing with a sea of green on St. Patrick’s Day will be the bright blue of KU.

With a Big 12 Championship win under their belts, the University of Kansas begins its journey to the Final Four on Thursday.

Kansas is the only local team in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. 

KU’s first round match will be in Fort Worth against either Texas Southern or Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. 

It’s going to be a late night affair. Game time on Thursday is 8:57 p.m.

Meanwhile, there’ll be a lot more local presence in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, which also gets underway this week. 

Missouri State, Kansas State and KU are all competing.

A basketball coach and player bump fists
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self and the Jayhawks play Thursday night in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. (Tony Gutierrez | AP)

Help Wanted: Basketball ‘Miracle’ Worker

Do you like basketball? Would you like to earn a multi-million dollar salary?

There’s a job out there for you this week.

After a disappointing end to the season, two of our top local universities are now looking for head basketball coaches. The University of Missouri just fired Cuonzo Martin. And after 10 seasons, Bruce Weber is out as head coach at K-State.

Both schools say they will launch a national search this week, with plans to find replacements by the end of the month.

Weber was earning a base salary of $2.8 million at K-State. Cuonzo Martin was making $3 million a year at Mizzou. He was the highest paid men’s basketball coach in school history.

Pain at the Pump

Is this the week gas prices finally hit $4 per gallon in Kansas City?

Guess what? It’s already here. 

According to GasBuddy.com, a Hy-Vee service station in Olathe was charging $4.24 a gallon yesterday.

It’s all the more puzzling when a QuikTrip in North Kansas City was advertising gas at $3.53. That’s more than 70 cents cheaper. Would that be worth going a few miles out of your way to fill up?

While drivers around the country are experiencing sticker shock at the pump, it’s worth noting that our area currently has the nation’s lowest gas prices.

A new AAA survey released this morning finds that Kansas currently has the country’s cheapest gas.  Missouri is a close second.

While the cost of unleaded catches the attention of most drivers, economists say the even faster rise in diesel costs may have a broader impact on your pocketbook.

Higher fuel costs for trucks means higher costs for everything from food to clothing. Even local lawn care companies and mobile dog groomers are upping their service fees.

So is Uber. The rideshare company says it will start adding a gas surcharge on every trip, starting this week.

Missouri Lawmakers Take the Week Off

Guess who else is on Spring Break this week?

Missouri lawmakers.

That means ending that stalemate over redrawing congressional maps will have to wait another week. 

So will action on a slew of other hot issues, from funding police in Kansas City to adopting new restrictions on abortion. 

Late last week, a Missouri lawmaker proposed banning residents from getting abortions out of state.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is spending spring break in London.

This week, the governor and his wife are on a trade mission to the U.K. to promote Missouri products and to pitch the state as a good place to do business.

This is Parson’s first overseas trip since the pandemic began. COVID-19 forced the governor to cancel a trade mission to Israel and Greece in December. 

Kansas Mystery Company

Will the big Kansas mystery finally be solved this week?

Last month we were told that a final decision will be made by mid-March on whether a massive manufacturing facility will be built in Kansas. State lawmakers approved more than $1 billion in incentives to lure the unnamed employer, promising up to 4,000 permanent jobs.

Well it’s now officially mid-March and the name of the company is still shrouded in secrecy.

Kansas is competing with Oklahoma for the unnamed megaproject.

Several sources claim Panasonic is the firm at the center of the mystery.

It’s claimed the Japanese electronics conglomerate wants to open an electric vehicle battery plant.

While we wait for that final decision, Kansas lawmakers are dealing with a packed plate.

Up for debate this week are bills banning any city or county from imposing a mask mandate and a separate measure adding tougher criminal penalties against anyone who assaults a health care worker.

Also on the agenda is a push to change the way Supreme Court justices are appointed in Kansas and a bill banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. 

Royals Return

Now that the baseball lockout is over, the Kansas City Royals finally report to spring training this week.

The team left for Surprise, Arizona, over the weekend. 

The team’s first spring training game is this Friday against the Texas Rangers.

The lockout has pushed back the start of the regular season.

Opening day is now scheduled for Thursday, April 7, against the newly named Cleveland Guardians. First pitch at Kauffman Stadium will be at 3:10 p.m.

To make up for the games that were lost due to the lockout, the back end of the season has now been extended three days. Multiple doubleheaders have also been added to the schedule.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Expect to see lots of references in your social media feed this week to “The Godfather.” 

And I’m not talking about the pizza company. 

The iconic mafia movie premiered 50 years ago this week. 

Starring Marlon Brando as the aging patriarch of the Corleone family in New York, “The Godfather” is counted among the best films ever made.  It won three Oscars, including for best picture.

To mark the 50th anniversary, restored versions of the three “Godfather” films are now being released on 4k Ultra HD. They hit stores on March 22.

Auschwitz Exhibit Closes This Week

This is your last chance to see the Auschwitz exhibit at Union Station.

It’s closing this week, after a nine-month run.

Union Station officials say it’s the most attended exhibit in its history.

More than 350,000 people are expected to have secured tickets by the time it closes for good on Sunday.

Union Station has already announced its next big exhibit. It will chronicle the ancient mysteries of the Mayan culture

MAYA: The Great Jaguar Rises opens May 13.

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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