The NFL Draft has arrived in Kansas City. Here’s what you need to know
Kansas City is hosting the NFL Draft for the first time. Fans from across the country are convening at Union Station from April 27-29 for games, concerts and other activities. KCUR put together this guide to the event and what it means for the city.
NFL fans from across the country are converging at Union Station to represent their favorite team and celebrate their squad's newest additions during the NFL Draft from April 27 to April 29.
Kansas City has already hosted two Super Bowl parades this decade and it will host the 2026 World Cup, but this event stands to be unlike any other.
“What's so cool and unique about the NFL draft is that all 32 teams are represented and so we will see fans from every NFL team across the country coming into Kansas City to experience this three-day event,” said Kansas City Sports Commission spokesperson Elliot Scott.
The commission is hoping more than 100,000 visitors will take part each day of the draft, which would make it the largest single-sport event in the history of Kansas City.
“It provides Kansas City with this national and international spotlight, and is another opportunity to showcase what a compelling destination we are to the world," Elliot said.
Given the event's scale, developing a travel plan before heading to Union Station will be important. Knowing about road closures, public transportation options, and the NFL’s clear bag policy will help provide the best experience — and we're here to help.
Here's what you need to know to prepare for the Draft.
The crowd factor
We're still waiting for official attendance numbers, but it's safe to say you should arrive early if you want a view of the stage.
On Friday, even before the first draft picks were announced, the crowds at Union Station had already reached capacity — so some fans trying to get into the theater area left disappointed.
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, Nashville drew an estimated crowd of more than 600,000 fans over the three-day event. In Las Vegas last year, the number was projected to exceed 500,000 fans. But when it was all said and done, the NFL announced that the figure was closer to 300,000 — still a sizable crowd.
Each day’s attendance in Kansas City may not match the total number of fans who celebrated last February’s Super Bowl championship, but city officials would likely be privately disappointed if Kansas City didn’t exceed Nashville’s 2019 total.
What does it cost to get in?
There are ticket options for reserved seating in the main theater. They are not cheap.
VIP services company On Location sells ticket packages for each day, but tickets for the First Round and an all-rounds package are sold out. Day two tickets are $1,250, and day three tickets cost $550. They include reserved seating in the main theater, with better views of the main stage, complimentary drinks, and admission to a concert at the Draft. Day two tickets provide a behind-the-scenes look at NFL Draft operations.
Activities and experiences
NFL Draft-related games and attractions will be held at the National WWI Museum and Memorial’s south lawn, where fans can test their football skills.
Activities will include the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, field goal kick, and Hail Mary challenges. Fans can also visit a replica draft stage and locker room.
Free autographs from current and former NFL players will be available, and visitors can see a Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibit that includes the Vince Lombardi Trophy. All 56 Super Bowl rings will also be on display.
The National WWI Museum and Memorial will be open during the NFL Draft, but they will be closed on April 25, 26 and 30. Admission is $20, and children ages 5 and under are free.
The Money Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which sits across from the National WWI Museum and Memorial, will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday during the Draft. Admission is free, and visitors can view $40 million in cash and the bank’s cash vault. There will be a football-themed scavenger hunt and origami station, along with a football souvenir bag of shredded money.
NFL Draft Concert Series
The NFL Draft Concert Series features shows each day of the event.
Grammy Award-nominated band Fall Out Boy will take the stage after Round 1 on Thursday, April 27. Mötley Crüe will headline day two on Friday, April 28. Grammy-winning bassist and vocalist Thundercat will close out the draft's last day.
In a nod to Kansas City culture, Thundercat's performance will pay tribute to the rich history and legacy of jazz here.
Plan to get there early if you want to catch a show. Standing-room-only viewing space is on the north lawn of the Museum and Memorial. Performances will also be streamed in full and live at NFL.com, on the NFL's Facebook Page and YouTube.
Kansas City icon Oleta Adams will perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing," and country music star Brittney Spencer will sing the national anthem live from downtown as part of opening festivities.
Kansas City's Lost Wax will serve as the Draft Theater house band each day.
The most interesting sideshow, and perhaps the toughest ticket, held in conjunction with the NFL Draft is Kelce Jam, a music and food festival scheduled for Friday, April 28, at the Azura Amphitheater.
Local talent like Tech N9ne, who did a number at the Chiefs Super Bowl rally, will be on hand, along with other nationally-known artists.
Some of Kansas City’s most reputable cuisines will also be available at what is being called an all-ages event.
Road closures will remain in effect even after the Draft ends, as crews will need time to deconstruct the stage and accompanying infrastructure. These roads will be closed through May 7:
- Main Street between 20th Street and Pershing Road
- Main Street between Pershing Road and southbound Grand Boulevard
- Memorial Drive
- OK Street
- Pershing Road between Broadway Street and Grand Boulevard
- Kessler Road between Pershing Road and northbound Wyandotte Street
Road closures and dates are subject to change.
Parking and transportation
Street parking will be restricted near the Draft site from 19th to 31st streets and from West Pennway and Broadway Street to McGee Street. Those closures are in effect from April 26 to April 29.
Parking will be available at many garages downtown. This map shows parking and hotel locations, along with the estimated time it will take you to walk to Union Station.
The streetcar is free to ride, but the Union Station stop will be closed through the Draft. Here are the times you can catch the Streetcar:
- Thursday, April 27: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Friday, April 28: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Saturday, April 29: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The RideKC bus is free and the MAX line will travel through downtown. The NFL Draft entry is a five minute walk from the 29th Street stop.
Only one park-and-ride location is available, at the West Bottoms Garage near Hy-Vee Arena. Prebooking is required for the shuttle, but it is free. More information on the service will be available later.
That colossal stage in front of Union Station is also crimping access to Kansas City’s primary passenger train terminal.
From Wednesday to Sunday, Amtrak will have a temporary pick-up and drop-off point on West 25th Street, between Jefferson and West Pennway streets. Ride-share services will also be directed to that location.
From there, an accessible shuttle will take riders to and from the train station. For a map of the temporary pick-up point, click here.
Amtrak is also telling passengers to show up no less than two hours before their departure time, and warning that there is no parking for any riders at Union Station.
Kansas City Public Schools classes will be held remotely on Thursday, April 27, and Friday, April 28.
According to an email sent to KCPS parents last week, the decision was made to "prevent students from being late or absent due to road closures or the lack of transportation available." The district is also preparing for possible significant call-offs from bus drivers and school staff, the email said.
Keep this mind when thinking about the economic impact of the NFL in the Kansas City area: For five days in March, the Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments generated around $18 million in direct spending in the local economy — that’s hotels, restaurants, transportation and retail sales.
By comparison, the NFL’s three-day event is expected to generate more than five times that amount.
“It’s estimated that the NFL will generate $102.1 million in direct spending within the local economy, so this is a huge deal,” Deputy City Manager Kimika Gilmore told the Kansas City Council last fall.
It’s not unusual to hear the name of someone with Kansas City roots called out on the first night of the draft, when the highest-profile, first-round picks are announced.
Isaiah Simmons, an Olathe product who went on to play at Clemson University, was a first-round pick, and eighth overall, by the Arizona Cardinals in 2020.
This year, former Kansas State defensive lineman Felix Anudike-Uzomah, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, appears to have an outside shot at being selected the first night. It’s more likely he’ll be chosen on the second day.
The Chiefs’ plan
As the Super Bowl champion, the Chiefs had the last pick of the first round — the 31st pick overall, because Miami forfeited its pick at No. 21.
Chiefs Chairman Clark Hunt has joked in the past about keeping General Manager Brett Veach away from his tendency to trade the Chiefs top pick so the Chiefs selection can echo out at the site of this year’s draft. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Veach will wait until that point.
“At the end of the day, if there’s a transaction that makes sense for the club, certainly I’m not going to stand in the way of that,” Hunt said last November.
On Friday night, the Chiefs ended up with a hometown boy, selecting Kansas State pass rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah as the 31st pick.
Anudike-Uzomah was born in Kansas City and became a high school star in the suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, before playing for the Wildcats. He became a starter in the Big 12 by his sophomore season and declared for the draft after a junior season in which he was voted the league’s defensive player of the year.
“I got drafted by literally my favorite team growing up,” Anudike-Uzomah said. “It's definitly a dream come true.”
Anudike-Uzomah fills a big need for the Chiefs, who released Frank Clark not long ago to create some salary cap space.
“Felix is a heck of a player. He’s also a KC native, so we appreciate that part of it, too,” coach Andy Reid said. “When you’re picking right there at 31, you take the best player available. He was that guy.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.