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Hospitality industry, Kansas City Sports Commission discuss successes of NFL Draft

NFL Draft fan experience
Posted at 7:15 AM, May 02, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hotels in Kansas City say the NFL Draft gave them a significant boost this past weekend.

Loews Kansas City Hotel was sold out during the week and had guests from out of state and all over the world stay with them.

"Our industry, as many industries, are still digging out of the pandemic from the impact that it had on our business and certainly every time you have an opportunity to be that busy, it's always good," said Brian Johnson, managing director of the Loews Hotel.

Loews joins a list of hotels who saw success during the week of the draft, prompting them to start thinking about what's in store for 2026 when Kansas City hosts the World Cup.

"We're looking forward to the business at hand and just getting ready for a busy summer World Cup right around the corner, and we'll be right in the middle of it," Johnson said.

However some businesses, like Rochester Brewing and Roasting Company in the Crossroads emailed KSHB 41 News and said the draft didn't bring a financial benefit like staff originally thought. With the exception on days they held draft tailgate parties, many locals decided to not be in the area, hurting their bottom line.

The NFL said 312,000 people attended the draft last week and the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission said it is confident the projected local economic impact of between $100 to $120 million for the three-day event is accurate. Weeks leading up to the draft, Visit KC put out a guide to help small businesses who were close to the draft and the NFL also had a Business Connect program to engage KC businesses to be part of the draft. Nelson added vendors inside the draft broke sales records.

"Now those people came and spent money a lot inside the draft footprint and of course, outside the draft footprint," said Kathy Nelson, CEO of the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC. "Those were real tax dollars that stay in our community, so that is a positive lift for the city. No matter what the business traffic was like in and around."

Nelson said the NFL was overall pleased with KC serving as a host, and mentions of KC being an NFL Draft host again have occurred, but no official talks are in place.

"We were just focused on this site, getting people to the site and making it a safe and secure event and able to use so many local businesses that activated within this site and throughout those few days, I don't think I had an expectation that there would be a massive lift across the city for other businesses," Nelson said. "We, of course, wanted everyone to be welcoming to people — but I think knowing that we adapt when people show up and enjoy such a beautiful day — maybe that's why business was down for them."