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Schulte adds that lease arrangements with food, beverage and retail operators could drum up quick cash to help finance the new terminal.
Concession revenue bloomed in Indianapolis with its new terminal, going from $5.3 million in 2006, two years before the terminal opened, to $8.6 million last year.
But Ford says the concession argument is dead on arrival for local travelers, who typically migrate beyond security before they have a need for nice restaurants and bars.
"It's real, but I don't think local people care," Ford says. "I think passengers with layovers care ... [but] I think it's a nonstarter, and the opponents are able to use that as a straw man."
The new terminal wouldn't actually cost $1.2 billion. Estimates peg the terminal bill itself at $700 million. Another $300 million would go toward new parking, with $200 million thrown in for a new de-icing platform.
Kansas City officials say keeping KCI as it is would require two new de-icing platforms — areas where planes sit on cold or snowy days while getting sprayed down with chemicals that prevent ice buildup. Schulte said that cost would approach $500 million.
It's costs like that, they say, that make the plan for a new terminal a relative wash, over time.
But even if the new terminal stalls, Kansas City plans to redo its de-icing pads, likely with a bond issuance.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have already browbeaten the Aviation Department for too much runoff from the old de-icing pads, which send chemicals seeping into nearby ponds.
KCI has never been fined for these transgressions, but city officials fear that the EPA could do to the airport what it did to Kansas City's sewage-spewing sewer system.
It was just a few years ago when the EPA got a federal judge to order a consent decree: basically a coerced promise that Kansas City would spend what will eventually amount to at least $4 billion fixing its nasty, ramshackle sewer infrastructure.
"The EPA has been very heavy-handed on us in these issues," Kansas City Councilman Russ Johnson said during a council hearing. "I'd hate for them to come in and dictate to us when we can get in front of the problem. We could have probably gotten in front of our sewer problem and didn't. Let's not make the same mistake twice."
One of the biggest mistakes by new-terminal proponents was hawking the idea that an airport could be built near Missouri Highway 152 before realizing that doing so would cost an extra $500 million. That dent in the city's credi0x00ADbility has lingered in the airport discussion.
Ford has suggested that the Aviation Department be governed by an airport authority that's separate from the City Council, similar to how Indianapolis and Wichita run their airports.
"Maybe it would be better to have people more attuned to the industry," Ford says, "and can be more strategic in governing the airport."
Ford was the chairman of a City Council in charge of transportation matters during Mark Funkhouser's term before he found himself sideways with the unpopular mayor. Funkhouser replaced Ford with Russ Johnson.
Johnson himself has leveled some poor public relations in the airport discussion. On April 4, during a Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the new airport, he shunted questions from Patrick Tuohey, Show-Me Institute field manager, and insisted that public hearings were for comments only, not questions. He also infamously bolted from television reporter Micheal Mahoney's attempts to question him about airport matters.