KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From Broadway Street in Nashville to the lakeside in Cleveland, the people who helped organize previous NFL Drafts are sharing their experiences as Kansas City, Missouri, prepares to host the event in April 2023.
Nashville hosted the event in 2019. Deana Ivey, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, said about 600,000 people visited the city during the three day period.
“It was one of the biggest things really to happen in this state,” Ivey said.
That means a lot coming from a city that hosts the largest Independence Day fireworks show, and countless music events and festivals.
The NFL Draft took place in Cleveland in 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. David Gilbert, the president & CEO of both Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, said the city saw about a third the amount of fans as a typical draft.
“We heard a lot of people saying it added hope. And it was the first time many people had done anything around other people,” Gilbert pointed out.
Both Gilbert and Ivey said the NFL is a great partner who handles all the production elements of the draft while working hard to showcase the host city. So expect lots of fountains, barbecue and jazz on display when Kansas City hosts the event in 2023.
“It's incredible opportunity for people all over the country and all over the world to see your community, and I will say the NFL will make sure that the draft next year looks, acts and feels like Kansas City,” Gilbert said.
The economic impact of hosting a draft is in the tens of millions. Gilbert said the draft pumped more than $40 million into Cleveland’s economy, and especially helped the hospitality and service industries that the pandemic hit hard. In pre-pandemic Nashville, draft visitors spent more than $130 million in the city.
Ivey and Gilbert both stressed the importance of doing a good job hosting the event as a way to prove a city can host future events. Kansas City, for example, is in the running to host World Cup matches in 2026.
“If you can prove that you can do those kind of events, then it gets their attention,” Ivey said.
Gilbert added there are a lot of perks for residents of a host city. The draft brings lots of fan experiences to town. From autograph sessions and panels with former players, to skills challenges and interactive exhibits for children, almost all the events are free and in your own backyard.
“People there in Kansas City should be very excited that they get to share in this,” Gilbert said.
The NFL Draft will take place from April 27 to 29 in 2023.