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Nick’s Picks | Juneteenth, Stadium Drama and Summer Solstice Here Comes Summer

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

America celebrates its newest federal holiday on Wednesday. It’s Juneteenth, a day set aside to remember the end of slavery. Banks and most government buildings will be closed on Wednesday. And don’t forget there’ll be no mail delivery. 

While it will be a short four-day work week for many Kansas Citians, on Thursday we’ll be marking the longest daylight of the year. It’s the June solstice, marking the official start of summer. That means it’s now time to wear a bathing suit outside, catch fireflies and eat ice pops.  

Stadium Drama 

Will Kansas lawmakers vote this week to lure the Chiefs and Royals across the state line? 

A more than $1 billion bond deal is on the table to attract both teams to the Sunflower State. 

It’s part of a special session called by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.  

While tax cuts are the top priority of the short session that starts on Tuesday, Kansas House and Senate leaders say they’re also committed to approving a funding package that could offer new homes for the Chiefs and Royals.  

Team owners say they’re interested in the proposal but have so far made no firm commitments. Many of the details are still being worked on, including the location.  

A site near the Kansas Speedway or the former Schlitterbahn Water Park in Wyandotte County are considered the most likely choices. 

Missouri Responds 

Expect a robust response from Missouri-side officials, if Kansas approves a new stadium funding bill this week. 

After previously saying he wasn’t concerned about the Royals and Chiefs leaving the state, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson now says, “We’re not just going to roll over and let Kansas come in here and take two major franchises.” 

Parson says a top priority in his final six months is putting a package together to make the state competitive with Kansas. Though it’s unclear what that means. Parson leaves office in January. 

In the meantime, Jackson County lawmakers are taking another stab at keeping the teams.  

County officials are set to meet this afternoon to consider a new tax stadium tax question. 

But their latest plan would only fund the Chiefs, and not the Royals.  

A 3/16-cent “capital improvement sales tax” that would go before voters in November is being considered. 

The measure will be debated at 3 p.m. at the Jackson County Courthouse. 

Last Week, Reviewed

KC Hosts U.S. Conference of Mayors 

More than 200 mayors from across the country converge on Kansas City this week as downtown plays host to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. 

The nation’s largest gathering of city leaders begins Thursday at the Loews Hotel. 

Over four days, the big city mayors will discuss fixes to a slew of thorny problems including housing, public safety, infrastructure, cyber-security threats and artificial intelligence.  

As it’s a big election year, don’t be surprised to see some top Washington names swing into town while the conference is here.  

In prior years, the annual mayoral gathering has attracted cabinet secretaries and even an appearance from the vice president. 

Blowing Up Buck O’Neil Bridge 

If you’re in the downtown area on Tuesday and you hear a big explosion, don’t panic.  

It’s a controlled blast that will finally take down the old Buck O’Neil Bridge. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation has been demolishing the nearly 70-year-old structure in stages. 

They’ll blow up the third and final arch of the bridge on Tuesday, but MoDOT has not released a specific time for that to happen.  

Northbound drivers are already using the new bridge, which is expected to fully open in December. 

Aerial view looking south at the Buck O'Neil Bridge.
The existing Buck O’Neil Bridge is being demolished as part of a $220 million bridge replacement project. (Courtesy | MoDOT)

Michael Stern Bids Farewell 

It’s the final curtain call this week for Michael Stern.  

The longtime Kansas City Symphony conductor and music director is bidding farewell with three back-to-back concerts at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, starting on Friday night. 

Stern says he has no permanent gig lined up when he leaves Kansas City, but after nearly 20 years it’s time for something new.  

He has several guest conducting and summer festivals lined up, but at the end of the week Stern will hand over the baton to German conductor Matthias Pintscher. 

Alvin Brooks Documentary 

Oscar winning filmmaker Kevin Wilmott didn’t have to travel far to find inspiration for his latest film. 

The Lawrence-based director has been chronicling the life of acclaimed Kansas City civil rights leader Alvin Brooks.  

Now the documentary is ready for the public to see. 

This Wednesday night is the world premiere of “The Heroic True-Life Adventures of Alvin Brooks.”  

Brooks was one of Kansas City’s first Black police officers and the first African American to lead a government department in the city.  

At 92, he is still a popular figure around town, which might explain why some of the multiple screenings of the film have already sold out at the Screenland Armour theater this week. 

If you can’t find a seat, don’t despair, we’re working to bring Alvin Brooks to your living room. 

Kansas City PBS is scheduled to air the documentary on Thursday, July 11, at 7 p.m.  

Art House Returns

Barbecue Border War 

If you can’t help noticing the aroma of smoky ribs and burnt ends wafting over Kansas City this week, you should know there’s a big barbecue battle underway. And it’s pitting Kansas against Missouri. 

This weekend is the Great Lenexa BBQ Battle. Started more than 40 years ago, this Sunflower State competition attracts barbecue teams from all over the country.  

But this year, this Kansas staple has competition from Missouri.  

Starting Friday night, Arrowhead Stadium is hosting the rival Q Kansas City BBQ Fest. A news release claims it will feature some of the nation’s top pitmasters as they grill and smoke up the Chief’s home turf.  

You might want to call it Kansas City’s second biggest border battle, right after the new bi-state tug-of-war over the sports stadiums. 

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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