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City leaders preview NFL Draft coming to Kansas City next year

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 11:37 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- This year’s NFL Draft began on Thursday in Las Vegas. Next year it will be in Kansas City.

Union Station was decked out to highlight that accomplishment with a big banner over the Grand Hall and lights beamed on the legendary building’s façade showing the logos for the Draft, the NFL and the Chiefs. The 2023 event is expected to occur in the area between Union Station and Liberty Memorial. The NFL hasn’t picked the exact spot in the city yet, but the head of Union Station wants to show it off as a selling point and hopes the historic structure in the city’s center gets a little TV time in this year’s broadcast when the hosts talk about next year.

He noted that the site served the city well for the Royals World Series victory rally in 2015 and for the Chiefs Super Bowl victory rally five years later.

“If we can handle a million people here at Union Station for those crowds, we certainly can handle the NFL Draft,” said Union Station President and CEO George Guastello.

Fun fact: Union Station’s fountain was designed by the same people as the Bellagio’s fountain, which is the backdrop to this year’s draft.

The Draft will be the largest event Kansas City has ever hosted. It was a years-long effort to secure and will be a massive undertaking to pull off.

Specifics of what fans can expect in 2023 are up to the NFL, but KCTV5 got the vibe from the leader of the KC Sports Commission and Visit KC. Sports Commission President and CEO Kathy Nelson spent years building the relationships needed to sell KC to the NFL. She’s been to numerous Drafts, including this year’s.

“When these new athletes are coming in and life changing selections are made for them and you feel that excitement, you are truly a part of history,” she described from her hotel room in Las Vegas Thursday. “And I think that’s what’s so exciting for me is opening the door to fans from across the country to really see what Kansas City is like and then for our Chiefs Kingdom fans to really see behind the curtain.”

She noted that getting the Draft to come to Kansas City involved proving that the city could host large-scale events. Proof-of-performance events included the World Series and Super Bowl parades, the MLB All-Star game and MLS All-Star games.

She also gave much credit to Chiefs owner Mark Donovan and Clark Hunt, the Chiefs chairman and CEO.

Guastello also gave a nod to the legacy of Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt as something he thinks helped KC score the event.

“I mean, he created the name for the Super Bowl,” said Guastello. “Everything that is the NFL is Mr. Hunt, and we’re so blessed to have his family still here and his spirit living in all of us through the Chiefs.”

Nelson said the event will have a significant impact on the city that extends beyond the world of football fandom.

“There’s a massive economic lift for our city about to happen. There’s a marketing exposure that we would never be able to buy,” Nelson said. “Whether you’re a football fan or not, what’s about to happen in our city, those truly will leave an impact at least for the rest of my lifetime.”

All the festivities are free. The dates have been set for April 27th to 29th, 2023.