NFL fans from all over the country arrived in droves in Kansas City April 27 – April 29 to experience the 9th annual traveling NFL Draft. 312,000 people converged on the city for this massively popular free-admission three-day event which is said to have been Kansas City’s largest sporting event ever, with attendance reaching numbers even Super Bowls don’t see.
Round 1 of the draft also drew in a broadcast audience of 11 million – an increase of 13% over last year according to the NFL – shining a prime spotlight on Kansas City. The audience combined across all broadcast channels was the third highest on record for the first night of the NFL Draft.
In terms of economic impact, the event brought over $100 million to the city. In 2019 it generated $132.8 million for Nashville, Tenn, with a record attendance of 600,000. 2018 in Dallas brought in $74 million, 2017 in Philadelphia $56.1 million and Chicago grabbed $43.9 in 2016.
Clearly, the draft is growing and offers the opportunity for the host city to shine in a hugely national platform, and also for restaurants, hotels, bars and entertainment venues to prosper.
Utilizing 3.1 million square feet of space, the Kansas City NFL Draft site was the largest footprint anywhere in the event’s history. The physical structures involved four weeks of setup and one week of teardown.
The city used its National World War 1 Museum and Memorial Parks and Union Station downtown as the hub area of the event.
The draft theater and stage were set up outside and in front of Union Station and the green room was inside Union Station.
Fans gathered on the lawns of the National World War I Museum with a viewing area and Bud Light beer garden situated on the north lawn. The south lawn of the museum featured the massive NFL Experience interactive exhibits, free concerts including The Fallout Boy and Motley Crue, and even a chance to snap a picture of the iconic Vince Lombardi trophy – brought home by the Kansas City Chiefs in the most recent Super Bowl.
The draft itself touts an 87-year history. Held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia on Feb. 8, 1936, the intent was and is to facilitate a competitively balanced league, and since that time, there has been a college draft held every year.
1980 marked the first live television draft on ESPN and from there it’s grown each year, eventually moving to New York’s Radio City Music Hall and then expanding to a three-day format and moving to Chicago in 2015 and again in 2016, followed by Philadelphia, Dallas, Nashville, Cleveland, Las Vegas and then Kansas City.
2024 the NFL Draft Comes to Detroit
On March 28, 2022, Detroit, led by its campaign Visit Detroit, beat out pitches from Green Bay and Washington D.C. in a vote by league owners and was chosen as the host city for the 2024 Draft.
So, on April 25 – 27, 2024, tens of thousands of avid fans will gather around Campus Martius and Hart Plaza with millions more watching and engaging around the world.
Says Claude Molinari, Visit Detroit’s president, and CEO,
Detroit is officially on the clock, and our city is excited to host the NFL Draft. Next year’s Draft is a team sport, and Visit Detroit is grateful to work with Mayor Duggan’s administration, the Downtown Detroit Partnership, the State of Michigan, and many other partners to ensure our city shines on the national stage.
Nearly three dozen city officials — members of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, the Detroit Sports Commission, Visit Detroit, the Detroit police and fire departments, and staffers from the mayor’s office – spent several days in Kansas City exploring the draft site, set up and logistics and meeting with their counterparts to gain insights for next year.
Unlike Kansas City’s use of a large sprawling park, Detroit officials are looking to integrate the draft into the heart and the streets of downtown and tighten up the footprint. To that end, the nucleus of the draft will be in Campus Martius and Cadillac Square and will utilize Woodward Avenue and Hart Plaza.
With a year to finalize and execute the plans, organizers will continue to look at facilitating logistics toward highlighting the city on this national and global stage, while ensuring the visitors and Detroiters who attend have the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy every minute of their time spent in the city.
Says Molinari, “Our goal is to ensure that the three days next April leads to 30 years of equitable advancement for our community and a positive legacy for all Detroiters.”
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