KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Kansas City prepares to host the 2023 NFL Draft at the end of the month, thousands of people are booking hotel reservations throughout the city to catch the action.
“It’s huge coming off with a pandemic. I mean, really, this is something we've had to look forward to, kind of that beacon,” said Andrea O'Hara, executive director of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Kansas City.
The Greater Kansas City Sports Commission estimates the Draft will bring $125 million to Kansas City, and hotels are already seeing some of the projected revenue. All 125 rooms at 21c Museum Hotel are sold out for the three-day event.
“We’ve been sold out, I’d say for the last 30 days, over those days,” said Tim Roby, general manager at 21c Museum Hotel.
Across downtown, rooms at the Crossroads Hotel, located less than a mile away from Union Station, are in high demand, too. The first night of the Draft is sold out.
"We're seeing professionals traveling for coverage,” said Jeremy Bennett, director of lifestyle for Aparium, parent company of the Crossroads Hotel. "We're seeing fans coming in just to be a part of it, we're seeing stay-cations because people want to be close to it."
The hotel's rooftop bar, Percheron, is set to open up over the Draft weekend to the public, generating an additional boost in revenue.
"I don't know if it's going to be record-breaking, but we could get really close,” Bennett said.
Loews Kansas City Hotel has some available but is encouraging future guests to book rooms as soon as possible.
"As the industry continues to recover from the pandemic, we are very pleased with the way 2023 is shaping up for the hotel,” said Brian Johnson, managing director at Loews.
All three hotels tell KSHB 41 that despite shortages seen within the industry, each is staffed to meet demand.
Kansas City won the bid to host the draft in 2019 but lost a bid to host the Republican National Convention in 2016 partly due to a lack of hotels.
Visit Kansas City shared data on growth seen in hotel rooms from 2014 to 2023.
Visit KC says three hotel projects will be coming along the KC Street Car's expanded line such as the Origin Hotel, which has already broken ground and is slated to open in 2024.
“As we get closer to 2026, we'll see some new hotels pop up,” O’Hara said. “This is a good practice round, it's a big one, but it gives us a feel for what's to come.”
The Olathe Convention and Visitor’s Bureau reports hotel occupancy for the Draft is at 50% but is expected to grow as we get closer to the Draft.
Tim Roby of 21c Museum Hotel believes "it's going to be one of the best years the city's seen in a long time."