KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the NFL Draft arrives at its host city, the league makes sure the event reflects that city.
The “Rocky” stairs of Philadelphia were front and center in 2017, and neon signs and bridges over the Cumberland River appeared throughout the 2019 draft in Nashville.
“I will say the NFL will make sure that the draft next year looks, acts and feels like Kansas City,” guaranteed David Gilbert, the president and CEO of both Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. Cleveland hosted the draft in 2021.
So what does Kansas City look and feel like?
“When you think about what Kansas City is known for, barbecue is going to hit the list, the fountains are going to hit the list, the Plaza is going to hit the list,” rattled off Eric Tadda, the director of marketing at Joe’s Kansas City.
Tadda has the barbecue part of that list covered. He said production crews often visit the restaurant’s smokehouse for obligatory footage of ribs coming off the racks before a nationally-televised primetime sporting event.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also a lot of fun,” Tadda admitted.
Jim Fitzpatrick has the fountains part of the list covered. He’s president of the City of Fountains Foundation. The organization raises money to help the city maintain and operate its nearly 50 public fountains. There are also more than 150 privately-owned fountains on display around Kansas City.
“This is the City of Fountains, so you'll find them in neighborhood pocket parks, various places around, and it's just a wonderful thing we've got going in Kansas City,” Fitzpatrick said.
In Las Vegas, during the 2022 draft, the NFL featured the iconic fountain outside the Bellagio Hotel. The same company which designed that fountain designed the Henry Bloch Fountain outside Kansas City’s Union Station. Officials expect to host the draft on or around the Bloch Fountain outside Union Station.
“Spring in Kansas City, fountains are on, water is falling, it’s great,” Fitzpatrick said.
Jazz, skyline views from the Scout Statue, the KC Streetcar and maybe even a B2 flyover from nearby Whiteman Air Force Base could all make an appearance during the event on April 27-29, 2023.
Tadda is already working to make sure Joe’s is on everyone’s radar. He’s coming up with plans to set aside space at the barbecue restaurants for local and national media to host their draft headquarters.
“I think we can check that box and give people a real good taste of what Midwestern barbecue is all about,” he said with a smile.
Based on the number of out-of-state license plates parked in the lot on a random weekday, it sounds like Joe’s is a top pick.