The NFL Draft is over. When will the area around Union Station return to normal?
The NFL Draft was billed as the largest event Kansas City has ever held. To accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people, Union Station and some surrounding roads closed days and even weeks before. Officials say re-opening will go much faster.
After months of build-up, including weeks of closures and the construction of a massive stage in front of Union Station to accommodate the NFL Draft, workers began tearing down infrastructure around the site before it was even over.
“We're about 90 picks to go,” Michael Tritt, Union Station's chief marketing officer, said on Saturday, before the third day of the draft began. “The dismantle behind the scenes has started — to really reduce the impact after the draft for our customers and guests.”
NFL Draft organizers estimated more than 350,000 people would come to Kansas City for the event. On the first night, Union Station reached capacity with more than 125,000 fans attending.
The green room for NFL hopefuls that took over Union Station's lobby was torn down after day two. Workers also started taking down lighting inside the station before the end of the third day, as well as behind-the-scenes support pieces no longer in use.
Union Station reopens to the public on Sunday, but the attractions, restaurants and retail vendors inside will not open until Monday. Access to The Link between Union Station and Crown Center and the Freight House Pedestrian Bridge will open by Tuesday. The U.S. Post Office and Amtrak station will reopen on or shortly after May 2. By Wednesday, all restaurants and retail will be open.
Tritt said Science City, The Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium and the movie theater will all have a busy first day back in service.
“We're headed in for the last few weeks of the school calendar year, and this is a busy time for our Union Station attractions,” Tritt said. “Monday, for example, over 600 school groups are going to be here. So we're powering back up rapidly.”
While most of Union Station will be open by mid-week, the front parking lot and triangle parking lot will remain closed for a couple more weeks as officials tear down the massive stage and tent. The NFL and its contractors estimate it should be cleared by May 14.
“Starting Monday, there's no reason anyone should hesitate to come down,” Tritt said. “The traffic patterns will be cleared. That was a priority for us to get back online as rapidly as possible, and honestly get ready for the summer months and close out the school semester in a strong way. Anyone that feels like they've been inconvenienced, their wait is almost over.”
Nearly all roads around the area will be reopened by May 1, except for Pershing Road. Running right in front of Union Station, the road will be a staging area for tear-down and will reopen by May 13.
Tritt said some of Union Station’s 50 staff members are helping with cleanup, but most of the work is being done by the NFL and its contractors.
“As always, the people that are in front of the cameras and the personalities that talk about these things are well known,” Tritt said. “Union Station wants to go out of our way every chance we get to thank the thousands and thousands of people that you'll never see in person. Watching them work has been wildly impressive, and they're the heroes behind the scenes for sure.”
To commemorate the event, Union Station has licensed a limited edition coin with the NFL draft insignia and art of the station. Proceeds from those coins will go toward Union Station.