A detail shot of signage in the green room backstage prior to the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Kingdom Sparkles in the Spotlight: Kansas City Shines as 2023 NFL Draft Host

The 2023 NFL Draft has officially kicked off and it's host city is riding high on it's newfound championship excellence. It may still feel weird to refer to Kansas City as a city of champions, but the days of choking in the NFL playoffs and insignificant MLB seasons are long gone for the BBQ capital of America. In the last eight years, Kansas City's beloved teams have had two World Series appearances, one World Series title, and three Super Bowl appearances resulting in two Lombardi trophies hoisted in the air. 

The recent domination of the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, encouraged the NFL to bestow the honor of hosting the 2023 NFL Draft to the league's newest dynasty. The move feels like an anointing of sorts, announcing loudly and proudly that Kansas City has solidified their mark in the league and will be a force to reckon with within the sports realm for years to come.

As draft week approached, all eyes were on the bi-state city, and it was evident Kansas City was ready to meet the moment. Let's celebrate highlights from the NFL Draft's host city debut as hostess with the mostess. 

A Venue Setup Worthy Of Applause

A general view of the green room backstage prior to the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station

Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The weather in Kansas City is a fickle lady, and in April, she's straight-up unpredictable. She could decide to snow, sleet, bring the humid midwest swamp temperatures, or even conjure up famous Wizard of Oz energy tornadoes. The brave challenge to a wishy-washy midwest weather forecast is why when fans feasted their eyes on Kansas City's outdoor setup in front of the beloved Union Station landmark it felt like a flex from the city's event planners. Everything could have been bamboozled by mother nature in a flash. 

Instead, we got to watch an exciting indoor, and outdoor dance with captivating graphics, light show ambiance, and jamming live band performances, with a fan-friendly viewing space that only two months ago was packed with Chiefs fans celebrating their Super Bowl parade. Kansas City's stunning and historic Union Station was once again on display and now the train station where Kansas City kids learned tales of mob shootouts and touched bullet holes stirring debates for years over what happened there was a lead character in the 2023 NFL Draft. 

The landmark Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain was featured front and center, glowing in varying team colors throughout the evening, highlighting Kansas City's affinity for fountains. There are over 200 fountains throughout the city, and should you ever find yourself in the "City of Fountains," you may begin to understand why Kansas Citians like to proudly share that their beloved city has more fountains than every single city across the globe besides Rome, Italy.   

Kansas City's Union Station was nearly unrecognizable from the exterior, where the newest members of the league shook hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and soaked in the roar of the crowds. It was an impressive sight, worthy of the Super Bowl champions. For fans who've never been to Kansas City, it helped give a taste of the level of beauty, fan-friendly environment, and celebration Chiefs Kingdom delivers. 

Fans were packed together as far back as the city's World War I Memorial and Museum, a three-mile distance defined by a sea of red. At times it felt more like a Chiefs Super Bowl party than the 2023 NFL Draft, especially when the live band belted the Bestie Boys after Chiefs owner Clark Hunt announced their first-round pick, defensive end, and Kansas City local Felix Anudike-Uzomah.

Putting Kansas City In The Spotlight

Fans gather prior to the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station

Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

There were many plotlines on night one of the 2023 NFL Draft, but the undeniable attention being drawn to the home of Chiefs Kingdom hums loudly beneath it all. For decades Kansas City was a forgotten sports city. Fans tailgated with devotion all those years, despite the black hole of losing, and now the young kids rocking Chiefs and Royals apparel in the '80s and '90s are adults relishing the success and pinching themselves watching their city host the 2023 NFL Draft. 

For hours fans worldwide saw images of beloved Kansas City architecture, iconic museums, and commercials celebrating the most extraordinary BBQ in the world. The significance of that attention is one Kansas Citians and Chiefs Kingdom may have yet to fully appreciate. A city that until recently had a laughably quaint airport now has a brand new state-of-the-art terminal. The influence of a recent two-time Super Bowl-winning NFL team in that kind of growth is unavoidable. 

Kansas City is rapidly becoming a midwest hub for tourism, and the legacy Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Andy Reid, Clark Hunt, and Brett Veach are building has been an integral component in putting Kansas City on the map. Bringing the NFL Draft to the reigning Super Bowl Champions' hometown feels like a flag is being cemented in Kansas City, a flag fit for a "City of Champions". The power of the 2023 NFL Draft week means Kansas City is about to have a flood of new fans. It's basically an inevitability between all the draft events sprinkled across the city and the Kansas City BBQ sports pundits, players, and fans will devour daily. It's fair to say that it's official -  Kansas City, and Kansas City sports aren't going anywhere.

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