I honestly doubt that MidAmerica was ever truely intended to be a major commercial airport. Sure Avmats will bring in some maintenance work, and there will be off and on charter/casino flights, but for the most part, MidAmerica will probably never have a bigger terminal than already exists.
However, after reading about what went in to getting the initial funding and the original plans, I seriously doubt that the commercial aspect of the airport was anything more than a gimick to get funding to build the runway. MidAmerica is located adjacent to Scott Air Force Base. The runway at Scottis not the greatest in the world. It was reported a while back that the runway is allegedly unable to support a fully loaded KC
-135. Also, for years, the city of Chicago was doing everything it could to get the Air Guard unit that flew KC
-135s out of ORD
to move. Well, Midway isn't much of an option, and neither would any of the other local airports, apparently.
MidAmerica was built, outwardly, for civilian purposes, in a time where military cutbacks and base closings were a very real and necessary occurance (for budget reasons). The city of Chicargo looks to Scott AFB
(which was probably not in any danger of closing) and decides that would be the best place to move the Air Guard (not that they have the authority) and made the suggestion. Of course, the runway there is insufficient for KC
-135 operations. Enter the Illinois politicians. They work on getting funding for a new, 10,000ft, concrete runway built at Scott AFB
. In a time of military cutbacks, there is no defense funding to pay for it, so they get the local governments, the state of Illinois, and the federal government, in the form of the FAA, to all pitch in funds for a new "commercial" airport to serve the southern Illinios region and to potentially take some of the pressure (ad business) away from Lambert over on the Missouri side of the river in St. Louis.
In the end, Scott AFB
get's a new runway, the Air Guard moves out of ORD
(at least it was reported that they were moving a while back), and the locals of southern Illinois get a nice little airport with 2 gates, and irregular and inconsistant air service (Pan Am came and went already) and, of course, the bill.
From the times I have been there, MidAmerica would seem to be more of an Air Force base than commercial airport. I've on numerous occasions seen nothing but an unbroken stream of C-9s practicing approaches, and the terminal has seen more use by military personel, and small private planes, than anything else.
Lambert's expansion, which isn't being too drastically cut back, will position it to be the airport of choice when traffic pics up again and someone decides to move in. And seeing as how, unless another airline sets up a hub there, Lambert will probably not reach former TWA traffic levels for a good number of years, it's going to be a long time before they run out of room and go looking for a reliever airport again. I just hope that when they do, they do something a little more serious than MidAmerica.