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Small Market Major League

Kansas City's grandiose dreams began to diminish in the 1980s as TWA and the major league hockey and basketball teams left and the NCAA no longer played its Final Four games in the city. The Kansas City Scouts were unable to create the same National Hockey League buzz as the St. Louis Blues and they departed in 1976 to become the Colorado Rockies (which in turn became the New Jersey Devils in 1982). In 1986, the Kansas City Kings left town to become the Sacramento Kings. Kansas City began to settle into the fact that it is one of the smallest markets of major league teams ranking #31 according to its television market. The era from 1980 to the present has been marked by substantial bond issues by the city to protect its past such as Union Station and Liberty Memorial as well as to make major improvements to the airport and sports complex. Kansas City is now experiencing the biggest building boom in downtown since the Pendergast era. [edit]1980s [edit]Desegregation case The single most divisive issue in Kansas City in 1980s and 1990s was school desegregation case that was to span three decades, cost millions of dollars, be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and be featured in a CBS 60 Minutes profile about good intentions gone awry. The case began in 1977 when the Kansas City Missouri school district sued its neighboring districts for funds to help it desegregate its schools. In the ensuing court battle, Kansas City's school system itself was put under a federal court judge guidance and the judge then proceeded to order tax increases to improve the quality of the schools as the system built its network of magnet schools including the high schools of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy and Paseo Academy. The battle dragged in the entire state of Missouri as schools outside the metropolitan area argued they should not have to pay for Kansas City schools. Further, Kansas City residents were angered over plans to bus students an hour or more each day over Kansas City's vast area. At the height of the debate Kansas City Missouri spent more than $11,700 per pupil—the most of any large public school district in the country. Teacher salaries zoomed, teacher-student ratios were 12 or 13 to 1 and some schools were equipped with Olympic size swimming pools, wildlife sanctuaries and model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability.[14] Kansas City Missouri had hoped to stop white flight to attain 35% white enrollment at nearly every school. Instead, over the life of the case minority enrollment has grown from 67% to 84%. [15] The U.S. Supreme Court in 1995 in Missouri v. Jenkins ruled that the courts had exceeded their authority in the case. The cas still continued to work its way back through the courts and in 2003 a federal court judge finally released Kansas City from the judicial oversight. [edit]Hyatt Regency disaster One of the biggest showcases of Kansas City Metro's rebirth in this era was Crown Center which was being built by Hallmark Cards which is headquartered in the complex by Union Station. The newest addition to the complex was the site of the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in 1981 during a tea dance which had been set up to bring back the magic of Kansas City Jazz. The Kansas City Star, which had been caught flat footed after the Kemper Arena collapse, hired a structural engineer following the Hyatt disaster and wound up winning a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage. [edit]Champions of the World The Kansas City Royals were to boost city morale in 1980 when they played their first World Series (in which they were favored to win but lost) and then in 1985 in the I-70 Series with the intrastate rival St. Louis Cardinals (in which they were underdog to the St. Louis Cardinals but won). The 1985 Kansas City Royals season ended with the Royals' first world championship win over their intrastate rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Royals won the Western Division of the American League for the second consecutive season and the sixth time in ten years. The team improved their record to 91-71 on the strength of their pitching, led by Bret Saberhagen's Cy Young Award-winning performance. In the playoffs, the Royals went on to win the American League Championship Series for just the second time and the World Series for the first time. Both series were won in seven games after losing three of the first four games. The championship series against the Cardinals was forever remembered by umpires' blown calls: one that cost the Royals a run in the 4th, and a "blown call" in Game Six by umpire Don Denkinger that St. Louis fans claim led to the Royals tying the game. In actuality, the dropped foul ball by Jack Clark had as much or more to do with the Royals rally that inning. Regardless, St. Louis had no answer for Royals pitcher Brett Saberhagen in the following game as KC won it 11-0 and the series four games to three. [edit]The 1990s Kansas City grew by 6,399 people during the 1990s, ending two decades of population loss. Emanuel Cleaver became the city’s first African-American mayor in 1991, before being elected to Congress in 2004. The opening of the American Jazz Museum, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and refurbishing of Union Station as Science City helped memorialize early 20th century Kansas City. The decade closed with Kansas City electing its first female mayor, Kay Waldo Barnes in 1999.