First held in Philadelphia, PA. in 1936, the NFL player prospect draft celebrated another first, eighty-seven years later, in 2023. The premiere NFL off-field, off-season event took place this past April 27 through April 29 and was hosted for the first time since its inception by Kansas City, Missouri, a city itself still buzzing from most recently celebrating a second Superbowl win inside of a four year span for the hometown NFL Kansas City Chiefs.
Activities during the whirlwind three days were held at historic Union Station, Missouri’s secondbusiest train depot providing a unique backdrop for this high-profile, highly anticipated event.
The technology supporting the 88th annual meeting of NFL franchises was a far cry from how the first NFL draft was conducted in the Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where a pool of 90 potential players hoped to be selected by one of the nine teams then in existence for a chance at becoming future legends.
Just a few yards farther from Union Station than a trademark Patrick Mahomes touchdown “bomb”, visitors will find the historic downtown Kansas City Marriott hotel. Though bested by Philly’s Ritz which first lodged guests beginning in 1908, the Marriott trails by less than a first down, yearswise, when its complete history is considered. Known then as the Hotel Muehlebach, the premises initially welcomed guests in 1915. But no differently than NFL teams plagued by stretches of losing seasons, a variety of circumstances led to the Muehlebach’s failure, resulting in its acquisition in 1996 by Marriott Hotels, who planned to include portions of the historic hotel into an extension project for the adjacent Kansas City Marriott Downtown, itself built in 1985, which undoubtedly played a part in bringing on the Muehlebach’s final franchise season.
Today’s Marriott lobby is from the original Hotel Muehlebach, with Marriott having painstakingly lavishly restored many areas faithfully to its period design and also extending restoration to include the Muehlebach’s multiple ballrooms, which actively host functions today.
As a downtown Kansas City landmark, the Marriott, with major portions of its complex classically reflecting a nostalgic pivot toward returning to the 20th century, is as much a destination entity in and of itself, as is the likewise restored spectacular Union Station.
In a bold move that by default, serves to illustrate the contrasting historical periods embraced by Marriott Kansas City Downtown, the decision was made to prominently merge cutting-edge, stateof-the-art display technology with century-old, gaslight-era charm.
Bobby Cardwell, in his 14th season as an A/V sales consultant with Kansas City Audio-Visual (KCAV), was tasked with designing and directing the installation of a massive 35-foot-wide Absen video wall, expected to be operational for the NFL Draft.
Marriott placed a priority on ensuring NFL Draft guests could remain easily apprised of the latest personnel picks, albeit at a pace less hectic than a Chiefs’ defensive blitz, which no doubt was the anticipated experience that would be underway at Union Station.
The video display impressively consumes onehalf of an expansive wall, flanked on each side by Renkus-Heinz narrow profile speaker columns to provide intelligible audio for the auditoriumsized cavernous lobby. While almost 20 feet tall, the video wall renders a comfortable, unimposing feel to those sitting and taking in the view. Eight, DirecTV satellite receivers provide video sourcing to the wall, passing first through AVPro Edge MXNet 1G Evolution II AV-over-IP nextgeneration encoders, with four sources looped out for input into a 4K AVPro Edge AC-MX-44 Matrix Switcher for source-sharing with a Nova Star video processor overseeing video wall image management. Additional displays, strategically located in other parts of the lobby, receive signals on the MXNet 1G EV2 network, but there is no mistaking the starting quarterback for this video team. QSC provides over-control. The system generates a vivid image, precisely detailed with freedom from color banding. Text can be described as tight, with crisp blurfree edges for easy readability, all marquee characteristics desired from a boxcar-sized video display designed for both entertainment and information communication.
Any person unsure of how a more than onehundred-year-old stalwart would adapt to nearfuturistic technology can be clear of conscience and free of lament, as enthusiasm for the video wall maintains the same fervor as for a Chiefs 101-yard kick-off runback.
AVPro Edge would like to thank Bobby Cardwell and KCAV for selecting MXNet 1G Evolution II in tandem with an AVPro Edge HDMI matrix switcher as key players in this all-star installation, unquestionably the next-best place to view a Chiefs game when Arrowhead Stadium is sold out.