This is Philadelphia sports, and things can’t be easy. So of course it’s happening this way: The NFL Draft is returning to Philadelphia next year for the first time since 1961. The Eagles do not have a first-round pick.
The draft will begin on April 27th and run through the 29th, and will be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The NFL said draftees will walk up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art when they are selected. Just like Rocky!
“How cool is this!” Ron Jaworski said to the assembled media at City Hall today. “About a post-pattern from here, eighty years ago the first NFL Draft was held. And guess what: We’re back, Philadelphia!”
The NFL Draft was held in New York between 1965 and 2014, but a few years ago the NFL decided to make it more of a fan-focused experience. It was held in Chicago’s Grant Park and Auditorium Theatre the past two years.
“As a lifelong Eagles fan, bleeding green in my veins since I was a kid, I can’t say how wonderful it is to have this here in Philadelphia,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “Philadelphia knows how to put on big events… we’ll now have the opportunity to showcase this at the NFL Draft in April 2017.”
Tickets to the draft are free, and will be distributed in a lottery. The lotto will begin sometime after next year’s Super Bowl. All three rounds of the NFL Draft will be on the Parkway, per NFL Senior VP of Events Peter O’Reilly. The Art Museum steps will be included in some way; if draftees do not go up them when their name is called, they will walk up the steps during a red carpet portion of the draft. “We will certainly utilize the Rocky steps as part of that player walk,” he said. He said the NFL would share renderings with the media sometime before the Super Bowl.
The draft “theater” area will be covered from the elements. Farther down the Parkway — closer to Center City — there will be a kid-friendly festival area for fans. That portion is not ticketed; visitors can just show up.
Kenney said the event was an “example of a private-public partnership” that attracted the event to the city; Jaworski said it was because the fans were passionate. The city said 200,000 people would come to the city to attend the draft and they would bring $86 million in economic impact to Philadelphia. O’Reilly said the event will cost “north of $15 million”; the city and the PHLCVB will be responsible for raising about $5 or $6 million to contribute to that.
The NFL and the city have a mutual option on the draft for 2018. O’Reilly said he did not see the Eagles’ lack of a first-rounder as a major detriment to next year’s draft. “I don’t see it impacting the energy or the attendance at all,” he said. “Our goal here is to create a massive, fun festival themed around football, and who doesn’t like that?”
Jaworski also said the draft wouldn’t be in Philadelphia if not for John Dougherty, the IBEW Local 98 business manager who was recently raided by the FBI. (Johnny Doc was in attendance; he wore the same outfit he did the day of the raids, only with grey shorts and an Eagles hat.)
Bob Brady first spilled the beans on the NFL Draft in early July. He told the Daily News’ Wendy Ruderman the NFL Draft would be on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway next spring, and that the deal had been signed, sealed and delivered. Mayor Kenney’s spokesperson said it hadn’t.
Then came a report from NJ.com’s Matt Lombardo, who said the NFL would announce Philadelphia as the host of the draft on either August 2nd or August 8th. Oddly specific! “Nothing has been finalized,” Kenney spokesperson Lauren Hitt told Philadelphia magazine at the time, “but it would definitely be an exciting opportunity for the city.”
It took until September 1st for the announcement to be made formal, but it was finally made today. The NFL Draft will be in Philadelphia next year.
The NFL Draft has been in Philadelphia 14 times. The very first NFL Draft — where the Eagles took Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger, who never played for them, first overall — was at the Ritz-Carlton.
|1950||Bellevue-Stratford Hotel and Racquet Club of Philadelphia|
|1957||Bellevue-Stratford Hotel and The Warwick|
|2017||Benjamin Franklin Parkway|
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