Kansas City has a date for the one of the biggest sports parties of the year.
The NFL awarded its annual draft to Kansas City for 2023.
The once business-like affair conducted in hotel ballrooms has recently swelled into a full-blown festival. In April, the NFL estimated that some 600,000 fans attended the 2019 draft in Nashville, Tennessee.
“This is a historic day for Kansas City and Chiefs Kingdom,” said Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt. “It was a tremendous team effort, and we look forward to continuing to work together to showcase Kansas City on the national stage in 2023. Chiefs Kingdom is home to the most passionate fans in the world, and I know they will make Kansas City proud as host of the one of the NFL’s premier events.”
The NFL made the announcement Wednesday at the league’s spring owners’ meetings in Key Biscayne, Florida, also awarding the 2021 draft to Cleveland. Las Vegas will play host to the event in 2020. The NFL did not announce a draft site for 2022.
After coming away empty in a previous bid attempt, Kansas City landed the event that has grown remarkably over the past few years. On Wednesday, the NFL and city of Nashville announced that the April draft had generated $133 million in direct spending, setting a record for the draft.
“Kansas City is thrilled to have been selected to host the NFL Draft,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said. “This is what happens when we work together to make big things happen, and it’s a testament to our residents who love this city and can’t wait to welcome the legions of fans who I promise you will have an incredible time here in KC.”
Union Station and the National World War I Museum and Memorial will provide the setting in Kansas City. It’s a familiar spot for a sports celebration. Hundreds of thousands of fans jammed the area in November 2015 for the Royals’ World Series victory party.
In addition to announcing draft picks from a stage on live television, the event also includes the NFL Draft Experience, a free football festival for fans, featuring interactive exhibits and autograph sessions.
“We know Chiefs fans will come out to celebrate along with thousands of fans from teams around the country for an incredible experience as we welcome the next generation of NFL players,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.
The first NFL Draft was held in 1936, and for the next 70 years or so the event was staged in hotels. In 2006, it moved to Radio City Music Hall in New York. Since 2016, it’s been held in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and Nashville.
Television coverage also has swelled. Eleven million viewers tuned in to the first round of this year’s draft, and 47.5 million watched over three days on ABC, NFL Newtork, ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
“Kansas City and Chiefs Kingdom are thrilled to have been selected by the NFL to host this prestigious event,” said Kansas City Sports Commission president Kathy Nelson. “Hometown pride runs deep in the Midwest. We are excited to show the world our unparalleled passion for sports, especially our passion for professional football.”
In the past decade, Kansas City has been the site of two World Series, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, the MLS All-Star Game and championship game, NFL playoff games and several NCAA basketball tournaments. Kansas City is also the annual host site of the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament.
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships were held here in 2017, and KC will be host to the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in August.
The city also is in the running as a site for the 2026 World Cup.