NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the 2015 NFL draft will be held in either Chicago or Los Angeles. New York, which has been home to the draft since the 1960s, is out.
“We’re focusing solely on Los Angeles and Chicago now,” Goodell said Thursday from Los Angeles following a CBS “Thursday Night Football” panel, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
The league's relationship with Radio City Music Hall, which had housed the draft the past nine years, had soured over some scheduling conflicts and other issues. The league internally had discussed the idea of moving the draft to another venue in the city, such as the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, which held the draft from 1995 to 2004.
But ultimately, the league views the draft as a showtime event and yet another vehicle to promote the league in other places. Los Angeles has been mentioned as a possible relocation destination for a few existing franchises, but we're going on the 20th year with no NFL team in the city. Chicago is appealing because of its central location, a hungry football fan base and as the third-largest city in the county it has plenty of venues to host the event.
Several other cities expressed interest in hosting the event, including a few tightly knit football enclaves such as Canton, Ohio, and Green Bay.
“We had 12 cities that were interested,” Goodell said. “We felt the best thing to do was to focus on the three cities, because they had such a tremendous interest. There are very attractive aspects to each of those cities. Because we don’t have the appropriate dates in May [in New York], our focus is completely on Los Angeles and Chicago.
“They both have tremendous bids.”
An announcement of which city wins the bid is expected fairly soon.
"I just got an update two days ago," Goodell said. "I believe the decision will come in late summer, but we’re not going to be bound by that. We’re going to do the right thing."
The draft has become a marquee TV event, with incredible ratings and two networks — ESPN and NFL Network — broadcasting the event. This year's draft was strengthened by a number of fascinating storylines, and the third day was unlike any other with the story of seventh-round pick of Michael Sam carrying the day.
Still, there isn't a Sam-like story every year, and the NFL is looking into ways to strengthening the watchability of the final few rounds. It has not ruled out the idea of expanding the event from a three-day to a four-day event.
“We’re talking about different concepts, primarily how to strengthen the last day and whether we should maybe push that back to the clubs a little bit more and allow the clubs to have a little bit more freedom as more of a club day,” Goodell said. “Maybe they would announce the picks from there. We’re looking at everything under the sun, because there’s a great interest in it and we want to do something that’s more responsive to our fans.”
NFL.com previously has reported that the league is centering in on two weekends for next year's event — April 22-25 or April 29-May 2. There even has been some talk in league circles about splitting up the draft over two cities — let's say, Round 1 in L.A., and the remainder in Chicago — but Goodell's comments suggest that scenario isn't likely.
New York had been home of the NFL draft, at various venues, since the 1965 draft, which actually was held in December 1964. The last time Chicago hosted the event was on Dec. 2, 1963 — less than two weeks after John F. Kennedy's assassination — at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel. All told, Chicago has hosted seven NFL drafts.
Los Angeles only has hosted the draft one time — for two days on Jan. 17-18, 1956, when it held Rounds 4 through (ahem) 30 after the first three rounds had been held two months earlier in Philadelphia. Goodell might be open to changing the draft format, but we safely can rule out that kind of odd split ever happening again.
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