How Hosting the 2017 NFL Draft will Impact the City of Philadelphia
Author – Ryan Gorecki
Well, it’s the end of April and that can only mean one thing…football is right around the corner. Yes, the first regular season game is still a few months away, but the media mammoth that is the NFL is quickly about to take over once again. Not only does training camp start less than a month from now, but a swarm of football fans from around the country are about to flood the streets of Philadelphia for one event: the 2017 NFL Draft.
On April 27th, an overhead view of the streets of Philadelphia will contain thousands of multicolored jerseys and caps belonging to the anxious fans awaiting the announcement of who will be joining their favorite teams. However, none will be more excited than those bleeding black and green, the fans of the hometown Philadelphia Eagles. This year the Eagles have the 14th overall pick and have the potential to select a cornerstone piece to go along with QB Carson Wentz. Whoever they choose will most likely become an immediate star in the eyes of Eagles fans. While hosting the draft will provide more than enough fun and excitement for NFL diehards, what impact will it actually have on the city?
From the Papal visit in 2015, to the Democratic National Convention in 2016, and now the NFL Draft in 2017, the fourth largest media market in the country is definitely seeing its fair share of action. Hosting events like these not only provides entertainment for the people of the city, but it attracts thousands of visitors from around the country, or in the Pope’s case the world. This sudden flood of visitors can provide an enormous source of revenue for businesses like hotels, restaurants, bars, museums, and other various attractions. In the last two drafts, the host city of Chicago saw an $80 million economic impact each year. Judging from the turnout of the past few years, Philadelphia should see an influx of more than 200,000 people attending the event, half of which being from out of town. Not only do visitors like to spend money, but it also provides jobs and overtime hours for employees in the above mentioned businesses, as well as people working security and set up/take down services for the event itself.
This is the first time that Philadelphia is hosting the draft since 1960 in the Warwick Hotel. Interestingly enough, Philadelphia also hosted the first ever draft back in 1936 in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. It’s a bit surprising that it has taken this long for the draft to take place here again considering its proximity to other major NFL teams. The New York Giants and Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Buffalo Bills are all within 300 miles from Philadelphia.
Now, an event of this magnitude seems like it would cost the city, and taxpayers, a lot of money to put together. Expenses are estimated to hit in between $20 and $25 million but the majority of this will be paid for by the NFL. The city is raising $5 million in private funds and only $500,000 will come from taxpayers, unlike the $8 million during the Papal visit. This is a perfect example of a public-private partnership, the NFL working with the city to host the draft in order to benefit both parties. Since it is costing the city of Philadelphia practically nothing, there is essentially no downside to the events planned this weekend. It will generate massive amounts of activity in local businesses and visitors will flood the historic sites the city has to offer. Even if the locals are annoyed and decide to avoid the city this weekend because of traffic and street closures, then that will only generate a spike in business following the conclusion of the event. Using the example of the Pope’s visit again, the weeks following his departure business owners saw a rise in activity due to customers who were avoiding the large crowds. Hosting the NFL draft will affect the city of Philadelphia for weeks to come.
Finally, and most importantly, it is good for the team. The Philadelphia Eagles are in the middle of a major rebuilding stage, much like the Sixers. They have multiple holes to fill and are now building around their centerpiece Carson Wentz. Whoever the Eagles decide to draft, assuming they don’t trade down, will instantly become a superstar in the eyes of the people of Philadelphia. Like Carson Wentz, Joel Embiid, and Shayne Gostisbehere, the number 14 overall pick will be the next cornerstone of Philadelphia sports. He will also be given a chance that the other three were not, a chance to be welcomed by fans before the first home game. Rather than having to wait until week three of the 2017 NFL season when the Eagles host the New York Giants for their first home game, this lucky draftee will immediately be welcomed by the Eagles fans the second he is drafted. He will see the dedication people have to this team and their desire to finally celebrate a Lombardi Trophy in the city. The number 14 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft is about experience firsthand the brotherly love of Philadelphia sports fans.