They say you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and the new Kansas City International Airport Terminal should make a good and welcoming one.
At a little more than one million square feet, the terminal is expected to open in 2023 — in time for the city to play host to the NFL Draft.
And among the first visitors to deplane will likely be an influx of sports fans, and they’re likely to keep coming.
“It’ll be the biggest year for our city in decades, and that’s all tied to sports,” are the words of Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation and the head of Visit KC.
Nelson listed the events that will occur just “a week after that airport opens … MIAA men’s and women’s championships, we have Big XII men’s and women’s championships …” plus the NCAA Men’s regional Sweet 16 and the Elite 8.
“Your airport is screwing up your bid”
A committee member scouting for a place to hold the NCAA wrestling championships said that to Nelson in the past about the old KC airport. Terminal A was subsequently demolished in 2019, making way for the new terminal.
But now, after Kansas City bid on the event championships twice in the last 10 years, that very sports event will happen in KC in 2024. Moreover, the city may very well experience a $26 million benefit from this usually highly attended college sports event.
The FIFA goal
Kansas City — and Nelson — have their sights on the World Cup in 2026.
That would bring the city international exposure and international visitors, and would likely prove very economically delightful for area businesses. This includes, but isn’t limited to, hotels, restaurants, as well as sports venues. Kansas City may see the same or even greater economic benefits from the NFL Draft.
And if legalized Missouri sports betting has launched by then, that could mean even more revenue for the state.
Nelson spoke optimistically of the matter. “Someone with FIFA said, ‘I just want to go back to something that Kansas City said — they are a four-hour flight from any of these cities.’”
“We will have the newest airport of anyone in North America when it’s time to host the World Cup.”
Features of the new Kansas City airport terminal
Dan Moylan, the development director for Kansas City International Airport Terminal’s turnkey development company Edgemoor, told KSHB earlier this month that the terminal project is “on time and on budget.” Features of the terminal will include:
- 39 gates (possibly expanding in future up to 50)
- 6,300-space parking structure
- Glass boarding bridges
- Terrazzo flooring
- Nursing mothers’ rooms
- Service animal relief areas
- Play areas
- Centrally located helpdesks
Justin Meyer, deputy director of aviation (marketing and air service development) at Kansas City International Airport, told simpleflying.com:
“All of those passengers from frequent flyers to infrequent flyers, from abled to disabled, to feel cared for and that we saw them before they even entered our building, and (to) create a space that is welcoming and accommodating for whatever their needs are.”
If all the good things planned and hoped for come to pass — and there’s no indication they won’t — Kansas City’s new international terminal could be kind of an airport Cinderella story.
As Rodgers and Hammerstein said in “Oklahoma:”
“I got to Kansas City on a Friday
By Saturday I learned a thing or two
‘Cause up to then I didn’t have an idee
of what the modern world was coming to …
Everything’s up-to-date in Kansas City”