Kansas City, the Chiefs, and the Upcoming NFL 2023 Draft

Highlighting how important the NFL franchise is to our mid-sized city

Henry Chapman, Research and Insights Analyst


Kansas City's rise aided by football

Kansas City has been on the rise in recent years, buoyed by the success of the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning football World Champions. The NFL Draft, coming to Kansas City from April 27 through April 29, 2023, is a harbinger of a further rise. Infegy was founded and is currently based in Kansas City, so we’ll use this brief to celebrate Kansas City's growing visibility in the national arena. We’ll explore just how vital the Kansas City Chiefs are to the city and how much the town is looking forward to the draft.

Kansas City as a rising demographic town

Kansas City has emerged in the nation's consciousness over the last decade with a growing population and economy. The Kansas City Business Journal notes that downtown Kansas City and St. Louis are the business engines powering Missouri's and Kansas's economic growth. While large coastal cities like New York or San Francisco lost population over the last decade, Kansas City's grew. Kansas City's population is now the highest it's ever been as of the 2020 census. The population growth represents a return to urban areas and a desire for people to live in cities with a lower cost of living.

Image 1 - KC Population Growth
Figure 1: Population-level of Kansas City (1975-2021); Source: 2020 US Census.

Kansas City's social media presence echos positive trends

Infegy Atlas recorded similar heartening statistics about Kansas City when analyzing the city’s social media footprint. When conducting an Emotions analysis, we found sizable increases in Trust, Joy, Surprise, and Anticipation from 2017 through the present. Additionally, when analyzing themes, we found similar heartening stats with increases in Convenience, Quality, and Intent distributions. “Intent” means that these posts contained an outsized proportion of action words or phrases like “going to,” “about to,” and “will.”

Image 2 - KC Emotions-1
Figure 2: Infegy Atlas Emotions Distribution (2007-2023); Infegy Atlas data.
Image 3 - KC Themes-1
Figure 3: Infegy Atlas Themes Documents Distribution (2007-2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Football explains this surge in positivity online

Diving deeper into this surge in positivity, we found that football, Patrick Mahomes, and the Kansas City Chiefs dominated the conversation. We did a hashtag analysis of the top hashtags used in Kansas City-related conversations, and we found that most of the top hashtags involved our NFL team.

We even found that generic Kansas City-related hashtags were dominated by football. After isolating the #kansascity hashtag from within that word cloud, we dove in for further insights. We found that sports and American football were the leading content subjects within that generic hashtag. These hashtags were overwhelmingly positive, which makes sense considering the enormous success the Chiefs have experienced since 2016.

Image 4 - KC Hashtags-1
Figure 4: Top hashtags associated with Kansas City (2007-2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Professional football puts Kansas City on the national map

Before the Chiefs' success, Kansas City was barely a blip on the national radar. That has changed. It's almost entirely due to the Chiefs. For example, we compared post volume across America's three largest cities (New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles) with Kansas City (America's 37th largest city). Around the Superbowl, post volume mentioning Kansas City surpassed that of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

That's startling, especially considering New York has a population that is 18x higher than Kansas City. In addition, when looking at hashtags associated with other cities, we note an absence of other NFL-related hashtags, even though each of those larger cities has an NFL franchise. This suggests that interest in football, as a proportion of the conversation, is higher in Kansas City versus other cities.

Image 5 - KC City Comparision-1
Figure 5: Kansas City post volume compared with much larger US cities (April 2020 - April 2023); Infegy Atlas data.
Image 6 - KC Hashtag Collection-1
Figure 6: Hashtag word clouds showcasing how the last three years of Kansas City conversation centers almost entirely around football (April 2020 - April 2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Comparison with other smaller cities

Knowing that football (and the Chiefs in particular) was vital to Kansas City, we wanted to see whether that relationship held with other cities. We compared the four cities closest to Kansas City in terms of population: Atlanta, Omaha, Colorado Springs, and Raleigh. We found a relative absence of sports-related content in Omaha, Colorado Springs, and Raleigh. Although we found some NFL-related hashtags in Atlanta, most of Atlanta's hashtags involved its music or rap scene. However, none of these cities saw the concentration or distribution of NFL-related content like ours.

Image 7 - KC Smaller City Collection-1
Figure 7: Hashtags associated with mid-sized American cities (2007-2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Social intelligence on the NFL Draft

Now, with the NFL Draft coming to Kansas City and bringing even more national attention to our town, we wanted to look at how conversations around the NFL Draft compared to that of the World Cup.

FIFA selected Kansas City as one of 16 host cities for the 2026 World Cup back in June 2022. This caused a substantial increase in post volume and attention. However, despite that surge in post volume, conversations around the NFL Draft in Kansas City have overwhelmed any mentions around the World Cup. Although the long lead time before the World Cup could explain this, it also highlights the preeminence of football in this town.

Image 8 - KC Draft vs- World Cup
Figure 8: Kansas City's NFL Draft versus World Cup post volume (April 2019 - April 2023); Infegy Atlas data.

Looking back and looking forward

In conclusion, the rise of Kansas City in recent years can be attributed in large part to the success of the Kansas City Chiefs and their impact on the city's economy, population growth, and positive social media presence.

The overwhelming volume of online football-related conversations  further highlights how vital the NFL franchise is to the city's identity. With the upcoming NFL Draft coming to Kansas City in 2023, the city has yet another opportunity to showcase itself to the world and solidify its reputation as a sports town.

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