How about Martin Luther King Terminal at Kansas City International Airport?
That was Mayor Sly James' response Monday to the recommendation of his advisory group tasked with considering honors for King. James did not formally endorse either a renamed airport nor 63rd Street, the panel's other recommendation.
Both, he said, pose regulatory, political and fiscal challenges that require study, a process that could take anywhere from six to 10 months. The City Council will have the last word.
But James, siding with the city's Aviation Department, asserted that any airport name that excluded "Kansas City" would dilute marketing and branding efforts. Only the planned new single terminal, not the airport proper, could bear King's name, he said.
"Substitute the word terminal for airport," he said.
Director Pat Klein told James in a May 10 email that dropping Kansas City from the airport name "would remove the airport's critical geographic indicator, create confusion among the traveling public and would hinder the Aviation Department's ability to effectively market Kansas City both nationally and internationally."
James pushed back hard at the suggestion that those who gave public testimony in support of the name "Martin Luther King International Airport" would be disappointed at seeing the renaming limited to the terminal.
"We have another group of people to satisfy," he said. "That is the group of people who market the airport to the rest of the world."
He called the issue "a matter of semantics."
"Most people don't know the difference between the airport and the terminal," he said.
The mayor added that changing the airport name posed regulatory challenges. However, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees the nation's airports, said last week that such re-namings are frequently granted, requiring only approval of the local governing body and a few months' lead time to change agency documents and web sites.
James also said he planned on reaching out "to the King family and finding out how they feel about this."
That would require consulting with Intellectual Properties Management, the Atlanta-based firm that is the exclusive licenser of the King estate. The King family has come under criticism for fees it has charged for use of King's speeches and other materials.
In 2007, the foundation building the King monument on the National Mall paid $760,000 to the firm.
There are no major airports named for King.
The advisory group chose 63rd Street, which runs east-west from Ward Parkway to Raytown, as a secondary option. Its appeal for supporters is that it travels a diverse band of wealthy and economically struggling communities.
"As several residents noted in hearings and written comments, all persons in Kansas City should have the opportunity to take note of (King's) life and legacy as they move through town," said the group's co-chair, the Rev. Donna Simon, pastor at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church.
James said he was open to the idea but cautioned that it would be a far more complicated endeavor than a new air terminal. He cited a city ordinance requiring approval of 75 percent of property owners along the street to be renamed. Zoning changes and a guaranteed source of revenue for improvements and maintenance would also be needed.
He estimated the cost of replacing street signage at $150,000.
James offered praise for the work of the 11-member group, which sifted through scores of ideas to get a sense of where residents stood.
"I consider the purpose for which I asked this group to come together to be fulfilled and fulfilled well," he said.
The recommendations were set in motion by a series of events that began March 23, less than two weeks before the 50th anniversary of King's assassination. Park board president Jean-Paul Chaurand told local leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in a letter that the board had rejected their proposal to rename The Paseo. The boulevard is under the board's jurisdiction.
Chaurand told the Rev. Dr. Percy Howard Jr., senior pastor at St. Mark Union Church, and Bishop Mark C. Tolbert, pastor of Victorious Life Church, that while the board recognized King's "contributions and sacrifices" for the nation, long-standing naming policy was to honor only those "who have made significant and outstanding contributions of land, funds, goods or services" to the city or park system.
Chaurand noted that the system already has a 42-acre park named for King at Swope Parkway and Woodland Avenue.
The rejection triggered the launch of an SCLC campaign to gather signatures to place the question on the November ballot.
The following week, James announced formation of the advisory group.
Howard has said that the SCLC and other community groups would continue to pursue a ballot question on renaming The Paseo.
"We do embrace and affirm the Paseo name change," he said.