KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City officially threw its hat in the ring this week to land the NFL draft.
"We always have 'what's that next big event?' on our radar as a sports commission and a city," said Kathy Nelson, president & CEO of the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation. "We're always working in tandem with everyone with the Chiefs about what would it take."
Local officials began visiting the draft in 2015 in anticipation of making a play for the annual event. Chicago hosted the draft in 2015 and 2016 before the move to Philadelphia this season. New York City hosted the event from 1965 to 2014.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, during a visit to Kansas City in June, said 14 cities sent representatives to this year's draft in Philadelphia. The bidding process covers drafts for 2019 through 2023.
"The game and the standards keep going up," Goodell said during his Kansas City visit. "But I think this community, in fact I met with some of them when we were in Philadelphia, I think they could do a great job with the draft."
Kansas City's bid leans heavily on assets such as the Sprint Center, Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium as potential sites. Nelson also noted the location of 23 military bases within a 300-mile radius of Kansas City, including Whiteman Air Force Base, Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley. The commission's pitch to the NFL proposes an aggressive strategy for engaging military personnel with the event.
"I think that will stand out," Nelson said.
She added that Kansas City's easy access for football fans makes the city an appealing destination for the NFL. Kansas City is located within a day's drive for 55 million people. The city's location also places it within a three-hour flight from anywhere in the continental United States.
"That makes it pretty easy to get to, come enjoy something, spend the night and get back the next day or spend the weekend here," Nelson said.
Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley in June called landing the NFL draft an "awesome" opportunity for the team, fans and the city.
"I think getting a Super Bowl here or a draft here, just the more events and the more people that can come through here, the more eyes that are on the city, I think it will just be a huge benefit to the people who are here," Conley said. "I think everyone will fall in love with it the way I have."
Rabid football fans in Kansas City also provide a compelling attraction to the NFL, Goodell said.
"To me it's about passion," the commissioner said. "It's about passion and having your own experience for a draft that's going to reflect well on this community and football."