Nashville Lauded As Ideal NFL Draft Host; Ready For More Events
The NFL Draft over its three days in Nashville saw a "record-smashing 600,000 people" flood the city's honky-tonk district, as the proceedings "wrapped up Saturday with high praise from many inside and outside the league," according to a front-page piece by Holly Meyer of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Titans GM Jon Robinson said, "We lived up to the hype." It did "not take long for Twitter to light up with requests to have the city host the draft again and speculation about whether Music City could handle the Super Bowl" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/29). Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. President & CEO Butch Spyridon said, "Far outkicked our coverage, our dreams, our thoughts. Way bigger than anything we could've imagined." The AP's Teresa Walker wrote Nashville "rewrote how to host the draft itself, starting with a six-story tall stage, with several city blocks shut off to traffic." A house band played beside the stage between selections, and NFL Senior VP/Events Peter O'Reilly said that it will likely "be a staple of future drafts." Las Vegas, next year's host, had "representatives on hand studying what Nashville did, and 12 other markets had people here for tips to improve their own bids to host: Carolina, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Seattle" (AP, 4/27).
SETTING THE BAR HIGH: In Nashville, Nicklaus Gray wrote the Draft "could only be construed as a city-wide success." NFL Network's Rich Eisen said that he "would not be surprised to see Nashville earn a spot in a rotation for the draft, should an arrangement be desired by the NFL." The '20 Draft is set for Las Vegas, but after that, the "slate is clean in terms of hosts." Canton/Cleveland and K.C. were "finalists for the last two seasons and would be targets" for '21 and '22. Given the renovations in recent years to the Pro Football HOF and its stadium in Canton, Northeast Ohio is an "attractive destination soon." Outside of New Orleans and the French Quarter, or "putting on the draft in the middle of Times Square, it will be difficult for the NFL to pull off a similar scene" to Nashville (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/28). ESPN's Lee Corso said that there is "no way that Las Vegas next year will compare to the show that Nashville put on Thursday night" (TENNESSEAN.com, 4/27). ESPN's Trey Wingo tweeted Nashville was "one of the most incredible experiences I can remember" (TWITTER.com, 4/29). NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King writes taking the Draft on the road is "one of the best ideas the NFL ever had" (NBCSPORTS.com, 4/29).
READY FOR MORE: THE ATHLETIC's Lindsay Jones wrote Nashville "should now be in rotation for the NFL’s premier events after an excellent showing in hosting the draft." The city had the "unique ability to take over downtown," and using the site of Nissan Stadium for the "more family-friendly fan fest, is something that will be hard to re-create in other NFL cities." The Draft's success in Nashville "should have the Titans and city officials thinking of making a Super Bowl bid" (THEATHLETIC.com, 4/27). In Nashville, Joe Rexrode wrote there has "been nothing like this before in Nashville." What could now be on tap is a city that "hosts the crown jewel of American sporting events" in the Super Bowl, and perhaps a CFP game and Final Four. Nissan Stadium "might not be the newest, freshest, high tech-iest stadium in the league," but the setting "couldn’t be much better, and an open-air, grass-field stadium is right for this place." The Titans have "made it clear they intend to renovate the stadium, not build a new one, which in the current environment seems prudent" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/28).
WHO'S NEXT? In Indianapolis, Joel Erickson notes Colts Owner Jim Irsay "wants a piece of the action" when it comes to hosting the Draft. Irsay said, “Indy’s got to get the draft. We’ve got to get the draft, but to have that, we’ve got to have the hotels.” The "problem, as Irsay sees it, is actually how attractive a destination Indianapolis has become for conventions and other big events." With so many events "taking place in downtown, it can be difficult to find a weekend when there’s little competition" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/28). K.C. Sports Commission President Kathy Nelson said that she is "encouraged about the prospects of bringing the event" to the city. Nelson said, "As I was watching it, I imagined how it would look in Kansas City. I’ll say this, Nashville has raised the bar for every future city. But I feel good about what we can do" (K.C. STAR, 4/28).