With Super Bowl host bid unlikely in near future, Chiefs turn attention to hosting NFL Draft

Jared Goff, left, who was selected with the top pick by the Los Angeles Rams, and Carson Wentz, taken by the Philadelphia Eagles with the second pick, greet fans at the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Chicago.
Jared Goff, left, who was selected with the top pick by the Los Angeles Rams, and Carson Wentz, taken by the Philadelphia Eagles with the second pick, greet fans at the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Chicago. AP

For years, Clark Hunt has made his desire to host a Super Bowl known.

And while that remains a long-term goal for the Chiefs’ chairman, he admitted at the NFL’s annual meeting this week that the possibility is still a ways off.

“It’s something that’s not on the front burner right now,” Hunt said. “I certainly would love to bring a Super Bowl to Kansas City for many, many reasons. The opportunities for our fans to enjoy the Super Bowl in Kansas City would be a dream come true in a lot of ways. We’re still working on it with the league.”

The 2014 Super Bowl, which was held in New York, opened the door ever so slightly for Arrowhead Stadium to host the big game one day. But the Super Bowl sites have already been determined up until 2021, and the league’s owners would need to decide to take the Super Bowl back to an outdoor stadium in a cold-weather market, a proposition team president Mark Donovan reinforced could be a ways off.

“We have the relationships at the league level to know, sort of, when they’re going to realistically open the bid,” Donovan said. “We’re connected enough to know, just to get our name out there, that we’re proposing to host a Super Bowl. Yes, we are. But we’re going to do it at the right time.

“And I said this publicly, that I honestly think — and this is my opinion — that the NFL is going to test an open-air, cold-weather Super Bowl in a different, bigger market than ours before going back to another one. So we’re probably two down the line.”

Still, Donovan said the Chiefs will aggressively pursue the opportunity if and when the owners, who will select the 2022 Super Bowl site in May, decide to take the Super Bowl to a cold-weather, outdoor market.

But when asked at the annual meetings when that might happen, commissioner Roger Goodell essentially shrugged.

“I don’t (know),” Goodell said. “We did have an update this afternoon, briefly, on the process for selecting the next series of Super Bowls. I don’t think we’ve asked anyone to apply. … I know there’s some interest, but until we see who applies, I won’t be able to give you any judgment on that.”

In the meantime, both Hunt and Donovan said Kansas City can continue to better its resume by adding three-, four- and five-star hotels.

“There have been some positive steps in that regard,” Hunt said.

The Chiefs haven’t given up on hosting a major NFL event sooner, however. Donovan said the club has also expressed a desire to host an upcoming NFL Draft.

The Chiefs are so serious about the venture they’re sending representatives to this year’s draft in Philadelphia to get a first-hand look at the logistics of the event.

“We’ll have representatives there to look at how they do it, to make sure the league knows we’re serious and we are serious about learning and making it a great experience,” Donovan said. “We’ve been open and consistent in our communication with the league that the draft is something we definitely want to pursue, so I think we’re well-positioned there.”

While hotels may be an issue for hosting the Super Bowl, Donovan says that given the league’s current draft parameters, Kansas City fits the requirements.

“We’ve checked every box, we’ve gotten good feedback from the league on our discussions,” Donovan said.

Donovan added that this does not assure Kansas City of hosting the draft, though he does feel good about it. The league will discuss at the May meeting whether to hold the 2018 draft in Philadelphia or open up the bid, something that will likely be influenced by how well the city does as the draft’s host this year.

“It’s supposed to be really cool in Philly,” Donovan said. “They’re going to do the Rocky steps, the whole thing. Like they did in Chicago, they sort of, I think, got surprised by how well it went, and they were like ‘Let’s do it again, this is great.’ And the second year went even better, so it may be a two-year rotation, it may not.”

Still, Donovan said there’s an outside chance Kansas City could land the 2018 draft, should the league decide to open the bid.

“We feel good that we will be in the mix,” Donovan said.