NFL snubs Los Angeles, chooses Chicago as 2016 NFL Draft site

August 11, 2015

The National Football League sure has a funny way of treating the league's second largest market.

On the same day that the NFL owners are meeting to discuss whether the Rams, Raiders, or Chargers will return to Los Angeles to fill a near twenty-year franchise void, the league failed to make the one obvious move that could instantly re-invigorate the city's enthusiasm for a team, as Commissioner Roger Goodell announced today that the 2016 NFL draft will return to Chicago on April 28-30.

“We are excited to return to Chicago and look forward to creating an even better experience for our fans next year,” said Commissioner Goodell.  “Based on the success of last year’s Draft and our high expectations for the 2016 Draft, Chicago continues to raise the bar for future Drafts.”

The 2015 NFL Draft was held in Chicago, the first time the event was located outside of New York City in more than 50 years. More than 200,000 fans from across the country participated in the 2015 Draft festivities in Chicago, including the highly popular Draft Town, a free, three-day outdoor interactive fan football festival in Grant Park.

The Draft generated a total economic impact of $81.6 million, according to a Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University study commissioned by the Chicago Sports Commission.  Half of the attendees were from outside Chicago and generated 31,000 hotel nights. Another 5,600 hotel nights came from NFL staff, sponsors, and media.

“Chicago is thrilled to welcome the 2016 NFL Draft back to America's heartland,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Our world class city will once again be transformed into Draft Town where NFL fans and players will gather as NFL teams make selections.  As always, we look forward to working with the Chicago Bears, the NFL, and our neighborhood partners in making this an event that puts our world class city in the spotlight, while reinvesting in communities across the city."

The NFL will work closely again with the Bears, Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago, Choose Chicago, the Chicago Sports Commission and the Chicago Park District on week-long Draft events, including an expanded Draft Town and additional youth clinics and community programs.

In a release today, the NFL stated:
"While locked in for the 2016 Draft, the NFL will develop a selection process for determining locations of future Drafts.  Chicago will be among the cities under consideration to host future Drafts."

The NFL still doesn't seem to realize that this is a two-way street when it comes to the Los Angeles return.

The massive Southern California fan base has a multitude of consumer entertainment options beyond the NFL, and is also savvy enough to understand that the league has viewed the Los Angeles option more as a leverage tool in negotiations with other teams and cities, than as a serious market worthy of bringing back a team.  In other words, the league's lack of urgency has not gone unnoticed.

At a time when local entities, such as the Rose Bowl, are still gun shy and wondering just how committed the NFL truly is to Los Angeles, the league could have made a statement today by placing the Draft in Southern California.

It's failure to do so makes one wonder if the relocation meetings are mere lip service as well.

By Staff of

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