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Nick’s Picks | KC’s Pursuit of World Cup Comes to Climax

Robust Mix of Fun and Games This Week in Kansas City

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

Will Kansas City play host to the World Cup?

This is a “make it or break it” week in the city’s quest to host at least one or two games in the world’s most watched soccer tournament. 

A 20-member delegation from FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, will be arriving in Kansas City on Thursday to check out everything from hotels to transportation, soccer training facilities to Arrowhead Stadium. That’s where the games would be played, if Kansas City is selected.

If you haven’t been following the story, the United States won a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup along with Canada and Mexico. But most of the 80 soccer matches will take place in this country, in 11 host cities.

Mayor Quinton Lucas says if Kansas City is selected it could be worth as much as $1 billion to the metro area.

That seems overly optimistic, particularly if Kansas City only secures an early round match between Albania and Iran.

But a number of news sites, including Fox Sports, places Kansas City in the “realistic contender” category to host at least one game. 

It’s claimed Kansas City has some of the best fans and training facilities in Major League Soccer. But the city also has challenges. FIFA has already noted that Kansas City has a weaker public transportation system than other potential host cities and it ranks near the bottom in hotel room availability. Arrowhead Stadium is also one of the oldest venues being considered.

FIFA won’t make a final decision on the 11 cities that will host soccer’s biggest event until early next year. But in the meantime, Kansas City is trying to put on its best face.

If you’re heading downtown this week, you may notice one of the streetcars has been rebranded with flags of the world, along with the slogan, “We Want the World Cup.” It’s not exactly subtle but local officials are trying to do all they can to win over the FIFA delegation this week.

Some of our local bid committee’s other efforts include displaying a giant World Cup banner in the Crossroads Arts District, lighting up the downtown skyline and dishing up a culinary feast for delegates featuring Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.

Kansas City Museum Reopens

It’s been shuttered for more than a decade. Now, the Kansas City Museum finally reopens this week after undergoing a $22 million facelift.

There has to be an entire generation of Kansas Citians who had absolutely no idea we even had a museum dedicated to telling Kansas City’s story.

Starting on Thursday, you can experience three floors worth of exhibits that tell the past, present and future of the city.

There are more than 100,000 artifacts in all. 

There are galleries that tell the story of the Garment District, firefighting and Kansas City’s contribution to medical breakthroughs. There’s even a gallery reserved   for chronicling the story of Kansas City media over the last 100 years.

Best of all, admission is free. 

But timed tickets are required. You can reserve your spot on the museum’s website at kansascitymuseum.org.

The museum is located in a century old mansion called Corinthian Hall in the Historic Northeast area of Kansas City. It’s on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.

The Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall
The Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall was built in 1910 and is Kansas City’s first history museum. (Daniel Boothe | Flatland)

School Closures

We know from U.S. Census figures that since the pandemic began, twice as many Americans are now homeschooling their kids. And while the numbers may be fuzzy, we also know mask mandates have prompted local parents to send their kids to private and Catholic schools.

Could that help explain why the Kansas City School District has just announced it may have to start closing and consolidating schools?  A series of parent meetings has been scheduled for this week to discuss plummeting enrollment. Superintendent Mark Bedell says 26 schools don’t meet the district’s size standards and there are some high schools with fewer than 500 kids. 

One of the most striking statistics is that Independence schools have about the same number of students as Kansas City. Yet Independence has three high schools. Kansas City has eight. 

It seems hard to believe that Kansas City would close five high schools. But is that the kind of tough choice the district has to consider?

You can listen to the arguments and share your views on what should happen next at the first town hall coming up later today.

At noon, Bedell hosts a Facebook live town hall, which you can access on the district’s Facebook page.

There’s an in-person meeting starting at 4:30 p.m. at Phillips Elementary School.

Here’s the full listing of meetings.

Redrawing Political Maps

Some people may think it’s boring, but it’s also important. It’s redistricting, the every decade requirement that states redraw their political maps based on new population numbers from the Census.

Over the summer, lawmakers in Kansas hosted several contentious town hall meetings with the public over how congressional and legislative districts should be drawn in the Sunflower State.

Now, it’s Missouri’s turn.

This week, a redistricting panel in Missouri will head to Kansas City to host two town halls to gather public input. And you can listen to what’s being considered and have your say.

A House Redistricting Committee will hold a town hall at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott Hotel.

The Senate Redistricting Committee will reconvene at the hotel at 1 p.m. for a second town hall. 

Both will be streamed online. Get the details.

Missouri has a deadline of Dec. 23 to redraw its political maps. If the redistricting commissions deadlock, a panel of judges will be appointed to draw the districts.

Early Voting in Kansas

If you live in Kansas, in-person advanced voting begins on Saturday.

Election Day is coming up in two weeks on Nov. 3.

While this is not a major national election year, there are some critical issues and races being decided. 

In Wyandotte County, Mayor David Alvey is seeking a second term as mayor. He’s being challenged by a former top leader in the Kansas City, Kansas, police department. If elected, Tyrone Garner would be Wyandotte County’s first Black mayor.

There’s also a seismic shift in power taking place in Johnson County. After 16 years, Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach is calling it quits. City Councilman Curt Skoog and former AMC movie theater executive Mike Czinege are campaigning to replace him.

All four candidates are hitting the road and heading to the Kansas City PBS studios this week to join me on a special hour-long election edition of “Week in Review.” 

Join us, Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

Jason Sudeikis Day

Speaking of Overland Park, today is “Jason Sudeikis Day” in Johnson County’s largest city.

The City Council is honoring the Overland Park native for his acting accomplishments and his charitable contributions as co-founder of “The Big Slick.” which brings together celebrities from across the country to support Children’s Mercy Hospital. 

But I’m not quite sure what you’re supposed to do on “Jason Sudeikis Day,” other than to binge watch “Ted Lasso” or perhaps take selfies outside of Shawnee Mission West, where Sudeikis went to high school.

Start Your Engines

NASCAR Cup racing returns to Kansas City this weekend.

With so few races every season, it’s a big deal anytime the NASCAR show comes to town. 

I’m no aficionado of professional motorsports, but apparently Sunday’s race is a big deal. As my neighbor who follows such things closely tells me, “this is the penultimate race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8.” 

That doesn’t mean a lot to me. But I know it does for many people here and across the country. 

The race at the Kansas Speedway will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports network.

NASCAR at Kansas Speedway
Kansas Speedway will welcome fans back to the track this weekend. (Credit: ©2014, Phillip Abbott LAT Photo USA)

The Puck Drops

To be fair, I should also point out that Kansas City’s professional hockey team will drop the puck on its new season this week. 

The Mavericks home opener is this Saturday night against the Iowa Heartlanders. That game starts at 7:05 p.m. at Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence.

Delayed St. Patrick’s Day

Cast your mind back to last spring, and you may recall how every major St. Patrick’s Day event in Kansas City was being canceled due to the pandemic

But hats off to officials in North Kansas City who have held good on their promise not to cancel their parade, only to time shift it.

It may seem odd to some, but seven months after St. Patrick’s Day, North Kansas City is hosting its annual Snake Parade this weekend. 

But as we’re now closer to Halloween, you can expect just as many ghouls and goblins as leprechauns and shamrocks. You can also expect lots of Halloween candy. 

North Kansas City’s 35th Annual Snake Parade gets underway Saturday at 2p.m.

Nick Haines dissects the week’s most impactful local news stories, Fridays at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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