By Ryan Mayer
The NFL Draft has become a traveling road show over the past several years, making stops in Chicago (2015 & 2016), Philadelphia (2017) and Dallas for this year’s version. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the next stop on the draft’s U.S. tour will likely be Nashville, Tennessee.
The owner’s meetings begin today in Atlanta, Georgia and, as Schefter stated, the site of next year’s draft is expected to be decided. The league announced the final five finalists for the 2019 and 2020 drafts in February with Las Vegas, Denver, Cleveland/Canton and Kansas City joining Nashville on the list.
Over the weekend, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com posted a story that gave an inside look at Nashville’s bid to host the draft, speaking with Butch Spyridon, the CEO of Nashville Conventions and Visitors Corp. According to the story, Spyridon has big ideas for the draft if it does make its way to his city.
“In 2019, we can blow this thing up, following Dallas indoors in the stadium. It’d be a 180-degree turn,” Spyridon said. “New York is the gold standard, but New York is an event. Dallas is an event. Nashville is a party. You’re going to know that you were going to be in Nashville and you’re going to have a good time.”
Immersing fans in the full Nashville experience seems to be a large part of the selling point for the bid, which has four main goals according to Wolfe’s piece:
- Build an event that locals want to attend and will make them proud.
- Get fans from nearby markets to attend — Atlanta, Indianapolis and Cincinnati are all within a four-hour drive. (Reportedly 63 percent of the 250,000-plus fans in Philly for the 2017 draft were from out of town.)
- Convince top draft prospects to come to Nashville for draft weekend. (One of the NFL’s big focus points is increasing the attendance of big-name prospects.)
- Top 400,000 in online app registrations for fans wanting to be in the actual draft theater. (Dallas had 400,000 fans register to attend the draft.)”
The theater referenced in that last bullet point is the Ascend Amphitheater, located on the river front. We’ll see if Nashville is officially announced as the host city after owners convene over the next several days.