KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Years of planning and construction gives way to a new era at Kansas City International Airport.
City, state and federal leaders cut the ribbon Monday at the new KCI terminal as the airport prepares to for its first departures in less than 12 hours.
The first incoming and departing flights at the new $1.5 billion terminal at KCI will take place Tuesday morning, but the ceremonial opening happened Monday.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, among other city and state leaders, were in attendance.
“Even for a transportation secretary, it is not often that you get to mark a major new airport terminal in America, and that makes this a very special day,” Buttigieg said.
Local elected officials proudly promoted that the project was completed early and under budget. With a $1.5 billion price tag, it’s certainly no small feat. Officials believe it will be worth every penny to travelers.
“So you can throw politics aside,” Parson said. “I don’t care about that. All I care about is infrastructure in the state and partnering with whoever wants to partner with us.”
And that was part of the day’s theme — wide appreciation among occasional rivals as they completed a terminal that former Kansas City Mayor Sly James compared to a 7-year pregnancy.
“When we were courting the Republican National Convention, our very first consultant that came to see me said, ‘Mayor, I don’t know what you can do about it, but you gotta do something about that airport,'” James said.
“There is no force out there trying to stop the momentum of Kansas City, Missouri, and the surrounding area. This is a big time deal,” U.S. Rep Emanuel Cleaver said.
These leaders know the new terminal could result in billions of dollars in economic impact for the Kansas City region.
“In a world where a city like Kansas City needs to compete with minor cities with 5 million or 10 million people in China that most of us have never even heard of, the competitor is not who’s over the river. It’s a little bigger than that,” Buttigieg said.
“No longer are we behind and just kind of dealing with something old, saying we’ll fix it up bit by bit — but we’re really ahead,” Lucas said. “This is the finest airport facility in America.”
There were nearly a dozen ribbon cuttings scheduled Monday in different parts of the terminal, which honored the contributions of different groups.
Following a VIP ceremony, officials unveiled a plaque honoring the new terminal, followed by one that shows the new terminal received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. It shows the terminal meets certain standards, including energy-efficiency and that it’s eco-conscious.
Individual ribbon cuttings for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the USO lounge also took place Monday afternoon. A ceremony to open the new baggage claim area, sponsored by Children’s Mercy Hospital, was also held.
A salute to all of the new restaurants and shops took place Monday afternoon when Vantage Airport Group cut a ribbon on concessions for the new terminal.
Variety Kansas City will officially open its inclusive play zone and sensory area for traveling families later in the day.
The final flight leaves the old KCI terminal around 10:30 p.m. Monday. Crews will then make the transition to the new terminal before the first flight from Chicago lands at the new building early Tuesday morning.