KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The stage is set, the fans have arrived and Kansas City’s time on the clock is almost up.
When you’re recognized on national television and your city is in the spotlight, what’s that next door to open? What’s the value?
Kansas City leaders say the NFL Draft is helping them think even bigger.
KSHB 41 News is taking this topic 360 to talk about the impact of hosting the NFL Draft in Kansas City.
Taking the podium, you’ll hear from our city’s number-one fans.
- KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas
- Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Greater KC Sports Commission and Foundation
- Victor Matheson, a sports economist and professor of economics at The College of The Holy Cross in Western Massachusetts
- Jeremy Bennett, the director of Lifestyle at Crossroads Hotel
- Bill Teel, the executive director of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association
- Katie Keenan, senior director of live events for the NFL
- Football fans
KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas
Whether it was the Chiefs Super Bowl success or its victory parade, Lucas believes the Heart of America will be elevated even more — by 45 million viewers.
"This is a game changer for our region and our reputation,” Lucas said. “Whether you’re somebody in sports, entertainment, culture, or education, there are a lot of great things coming here.”
Lucas said he's excited for the nation to get a taste of what Kansas City is like.
“Everyone in the country has a chance to watch us, and see Union Station, and see downtown and frankly how impressive Kansas City is,” he said. “For me, this isn’t just a one-off event — this is the beginning of many great events coming ahead to downtown KC.”
He says it should be considered as a win for years to come.
“It feels like the World Cup was going to be a dream, but you add NCAA wrestling, you add figure skating tournaments," Lucas said. "Then outside of sports, more and more people relocate to a town more large, and major businesses coming to KC and the region."
Lucas says he’s met with other mayors of NFL Draft host cities and believes Kansas City’s preparation is unmatched.
“This impact is going to hotels, it’s going to restaurants, and fundamentally going to businesses throughout KC," Lucas said. "We are incredibly excited to see our businesses and our restaurants, particularly small businesses that were hurt during Covid, have the chance to get recovery like this and all of this being largely money coming from outside KC."
Kathy Nelson, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation
Nelson has waited and planned the NFL Draft for years.
“There’s an uncomfortableness to our city right now, because we’ve never hosted anything to this scale,” Nelson said.
She says it’ll also produce a number we haven’t seen before.
“We know it will be north of $100 million of economic activity,” Nelson said.
Nelson said that number is based on how many people are expected to come to town, which is 300,000.
They also take into account how long people will stay, and how much they’ll fork out.
Nelson says it’ll mostly be a lift for hotels, but restaurants, airlines, shops and parking lot operators will see some of that cash too.
“The Lowe’s helps, the Marriott, the Westin, the Sheraton, being on the footprint," she said. "Most of the hotels are full, if not completely full, all the way down to the plaza."
KSHB 41 asked Nelson what Kansas Citians should expect from the project bringing $100 million in revenue to the area.
"That’s probably $10 million in tax revenue being spent in our city within a week — that’s a lift to the city’s budget, that’s why it’s important," she said.
The NFL Draft could cost Kansas City taxpayers $3 million.
“I believe I will not need all that money from the city,” Nelson said. “We’re raising money on our own to offset that so many partners have stepped up. We are managing expectations and expenses. We are at a budget number that is very comfortable with everyone.”
Nelson says the NFL Draft value is already being recognized, explaining how they already landed a large religious convention and have high hopes for the rugby world cup bid, more conventions and the Olympic trials coming to town.
“It’s not just equating it back to the dollars that are spent and the economic lift, it’s what impacts our businesses the next 10 years, and that’s hard to put a number to sometimes,” she said.
Victor Matheson, sports economist
According to Matheson, who looks at the payoff of big events like the Olympics and World Series, the $100 million output expectation should be lowered, by a lot.
“While these events are fun for the cities that host them, there’s not much evidence that they have a particularly large economic impact,” Matheson said.
He offered a different alternative he believes more accurately calculates the output
“As a good rule of thumb, take whatever the supporters or boosters tell you to and move the decimal one place to the left and that’s what you’ll likely get," he said.
He says Super Bowl economic outputs are often touted at about $500 million, but says it ends up being between $30 $150 million, which is still nothing to sneeze at.
Matheson brought up a handful of reasons for why this is like the substitution effect, where he says people who were going to spend money downtown or on the Royals will substitute their spending on the NFL Draft.
Matheson also said the crowding out effect is when money is coming in from out-of-towners, perhaps the locals won’t want to deal with the sports crowds.
He also said leakage is what happens when that money goes to corporate headquarters instead.
Matheson says those who will see the biggest monetary impact are locally owned hotels and restaurants.
“That money going into a local Kansas City pocket rather than somewhere across the country,” Matheson said.
He questions what the cost of doing business is.
“As cities get lured into this idea that it’s a $100 million event, which it’s not, then you have cities expending huge amounts of money,” he said. “Cities being willing to shut down large parts of downtown, being willing to shut down schools in the city to do this. Once that happens and you have people bidding against one another for that, then that becomes very costly for potential hosts.”
Bill Teel, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association
Still, Kansas City’s small businesses and restaurants will see bump immediately, according to Teel.
“Restaurants are doing okay, they are holding their own," Teel said.
Jeremy Bennett is the director of lifestyle at the Crossroads Hotel, one of the many hotels across the area hoping for a busy week.
“We ran as fast as we could to get the rooftop bar open,” Bennett said. “It’s going to be a great financial win for our staff.”
Bennett said the hotel is completely full for the NFL Draft.
“We are sold out for the majority of the weekend,” he said.
He says it’s been a sprint to the preparation finish line.
“It started months ago for us, so as you can imagine a hotel with 131 rooms, there’s a premium on every single one of those keys,” Bennett said. “We’re blending up the locals who come into town for a beverage with those in town for a major event.”
Katie Keenan, senior director of live events for the NFL
From future investment to Kansas City’s profile, many believe the value of the NFL Draft may not be fully realized for several years.
“We’ve been talking about it for seven years, visiting every year,” Keenan said. “We can bring the draft to cities where we can’t bring the Super Bowl, just because of the size and scale we are able to bring it to different markets. Kansas City has been a tremendous host, this site is fantastic.”
Keenan said 2023 likely won't be the last time the NFL Draft is in Kansas City.
“We are already working on an economic impact study with the city,” Keenan said. “We continue to stay in touch and we will likely bring the draft back here at some point.”
The NFL Draft wouldn't be complete without fans like Manuel Rodriguez.
“I’m ready to go and party it up,” Rodriguez said. “KC knows how to party; we will show up and we will be there.”
“That one player can shift a team to a Super Bowl championship,” said Jamie Ward, an NFL fan.
The next NFL Draft picks could be the reason to inspire, lead and drive a team to greatness.
“It’s key, it sets up your next season,” said Ward.
For Kansas City, it’s the same story.
Next year the NFL Draft will be in Detroit, Michigan.