KCI issue takes off again

A rendering of the new KCI airport.

The KCI advisory group co-chairs gave the city council the group’s written report Thursday, and hit rough air on the group’s call to build a new airport.

Two councilmen attacked it and noted the decision years ago not to replace the aging Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums with new ones downtown.

Bob Berkebile, a co-chair of the advisory group, countered that the stadiums were capable of being modernized and KCI is not.

He was involved in designing the airport and said that in more than four decades of work, “this is the first project I designed I recommend abandoning.”

There was also great opposition to building KCI at first because people loved the convenience of the downtown airport, he said, but that changed when an airliner overran a too-short landing field there.

So they built KCI to be the most convenient airport they could make it, he said.

Now two new airports of 20 airports comparable to KCI scored higher than it in convenience, the group reported.

Security and electrical needs and more changed over the years and KCI is now crumbling, flooding and does not have room or ability to adapt and change, Berkebile said.

Councilman John Sharp said, “I think KCI is not one of the most but is the most convenient airport in the country.”

It should be modernized, Sharp said.

David Fowler, the other KCI co-chair, countered, “you spend a lot of money not really getting a solution but just spending money.”

Over the next 40 years the best and probably cheapest option is to build the new airport, he said.

“If this is a 40-year decision and you don’t know what is coming, having an airport that is the most adaptable and flexible will position Kansas City to take advantage of the unknowns.” Fowler said. “It just positions Kansas City for success in areas we can’t possibly fathom.”

Councilman Scott Taylor joined Sharp in recalling what they said was the wise decision not to replace the stadiums.

Mayor Sly James said the only reason that was not done was because the owners of the Royals said it would cost them too much.

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