NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have confirmed that Chicago will officially be the home to the 2015 NFL Draft. It was not an easy decision for the commissioner and other NFL representatives as the final decision was between Los Angeles and Chicago. The three-day event will take place from April 30 to May 2.
The NFL Draft has been hosted in New York’s prestigious Radio City Music Hall since 1965. Ironically, Chicago was the last location for the drafts prior to the past 40 years in New York. Last year, the draft actually took place two weeks later than its original time frame, and many complained that it was oddly late for the event. The venue needed to push the event date to a later time to accommodate for another intercepted booking and left a negative impression to the league that has stayed loyal to the venue for decades. As it was not under the NFL’s control, Goodell and the NFL decided that that was breaking point to push them to find a new home for the NFL Draft.
The final decision came down to either choosing Los Angeles and “The Windy City.” Since the idea of moving draft locations came to play last May, Goodell has been in contact with both mayors of the two cities. Eventually, Goodell found himself more in contact with Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The mayor was also reported to have been in meetings in New York on June 3 to further persuade Goodell and other NFL representatives at the NFL’s Park Avenue offices. Since then, NFL team representatives have been in and out of the city, holding meetings with Emanuel, as well as Chicago Bears coordinators. The city lacks a venue as big as the famous Dolby Theatre in L.A. The Dolby Theatre hosts the annual Academy Awards, and the NFL Draft needed a venue of that nature. However, Los Angeles lacks an NFL team altogether, which also helped make Chicago and its well-known Bears fan base the favorable choice.
With the help of the Bears organization, the city will host the draft in the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, which is located right in the heart of downtown. The final debate between Los Angeles and Chicago was the fact that Los Angeles has experience with hosting large events like this one and also holds venues that resemble the Radio City Musical Hall in New York. Most of these California venues are similar in size, can accommodate to stage setups, and withhold the media and paparazzi. Chicago’s various theaters are slightly smaller and have not hosted an NFL draft since 1964, but despite that, Los Angeles failed to propose a winning factor that Chicago was able to bring to the table.
Chicago was one of twelve other opinions for the new draft location, and it was definitely not an easy decision to make. The main point that steered Goodell into choosing “The Windy City” was for the fact that Mayor Emanuel proposed an idea to host a fan festival in the city’s famous Grant Park. The fan festival will consist of various games, tailgating, and other activities like those found in Super Bowl events. Chicago is known for having one of the biggest fan bases in the league. Bears fans flood Soldier Field weekly and will only flood Grant Park along with the thousands of NFL fans that will travel to the city for the draft. Mayor Emanuel proposed this idea in hopes to not only raise tourism to his city, but to also add a fun and exciting twist to the fans for first NFL event of the season.
This fan festival will be a first in the league’s history. Commissioner Goodell declared it as a major selling point that Los Angeles did not think to provide. The NFL fan bases consists of millions of loyal followers who stick with their teams through good times and bad. Despite all the negativity that has occurred early in the season, NFL fans have proven that they will always love football. Chicago will not only host the 2015 NFL Draft, but it will also host its first interactive fan zone where thousands of loyal football fans can enjoy the weekend together in Grant Park.
By Tricia Manalansan