We know that Radio City Music Hall is out for the 2015 NFL draft. And New York might be gone, too.
The league has started mining for alternative locations, and that includes possibly moving on from the city that has hosted the NFL draft every year since the 1960s. Reports indicate that the team has requested more information from venders in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt, who has become one of the godfathers of the NFL draft, believes that next year's event will end up in the Windy City.
"If I were an oddsmaker, I would say Chicago is where it'll be next year," Brandt said on SiriusXM Radio. "... The draft is going be a grand event, as we know it. It's going be, not only the players being selected, but we're going to have events outside of the draft area in which they will have a 40-yard dash race for people that want to run the 40 like players do. It'll be just like the event they have at the Super Bowl, the NFL Experience."
It's clear that the NFL views the draft as an entertainment spectacle. It has become a major television event, scoring huge ratings this year, and now the league is looking to expand its exposure in other ways.
Once a two-day event, the draft format was extended to a third day — with television ratings the primary reason — back in 2010, and it appears that the league is looking into adding a fourth day, perhaps for the 2015 draft. In their minds, more is better.
In New York City, the draft can sometimes find itself awash in the hubbub in everything else that is happening in The City That Never Sleeps. But in Chicago, even with it being the nation's third-largest city, the event might attract real attention from fans who might not otherwise have been able to attend it in person.
There are several venues that the NFL could look at in Chicago, with the famous Chicago Theatre being mentioned as one possibility. But if reports are true that the league felt it has outgrown Radio City, with it's 6,015-seat capacity and tight foyer area for foot traffic, then the Chicago Theatre (3,880 capacity) would be out.
Outdoor venues such as Soldier Field, and its more than 60,000 seats (more when constructed as a "concert venue") could be considered, as could both of the city's baseball stadiums, which can house more than 40,000 fans apiece. But indoor options such as the United Center (home of the Bulls and Blackhawks, which seats 23,500) or McCormick Place (its Arie Crown Theater holds 4,249 people, but there is room for assembly seating for an additional 18,000) could be in play.
McCormick Pace is one of the world's largest convention centers, and its massive size, ample parking and location on Lake Shore Drive certainly have to make it an attractive location that will be considered. Other downtown options include the indoor UIC Pavillion (10,000 capacity) and the outdoor Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island (7,500), although these would have to be considered in the longer-shot category.
The process for picking a venue for the 2015 event is expected to move swiftly, and it could be chosen sometime this summer.
"Next week, there will be a group of people that are going to be associated with making recommendations to the commissioner," Brandt added. "On just where this next draft or supplementary draft should go, and that group will meet next week."
The league is always expanding in all ways. It never passes up an opportunity to expand its brand. This is just another example.
- Sports & Recreation
- Radio City Music Hall
- Gil Brandt
- NFL draft