For years, the NFL has held its annual Selection Meeting, the NFL Draft, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. For years, tickets for fans were limited to a small number and those who did get in were relegated to the highest levels of the balconies at the venue.
This year, the league is moving the Draft to Chicago, and with it comes a drastically expanded set of events geared towards making the live event a spectacle for fans. In a press release on Thursday afternoon, the NFL announced the plans for "Draft Town", a 900,000-square foot space in downtown Chicago that will be dedicated to fan experiences and events on the days of the Draft.
Now, the Draft itself is still going to be held in a theater - specifically the Auditorium Theater at Roosevelt University, which is adjacent to Grant Park and Congress Plaza, and is about a mile north of Soldier Field. However, teams will be responsible for submitting their picks not in the Draft venue itself, but in something called "Selection Square" which is within the Draft Town space. Here's a description from NFL PR describing what's going on at that venue:
Selection Square will serve as the epicenter of the Draft. Located across Michigan Avenue from the Auditorium Theatre, Selection Square will feature all 32 team tables where representatives from each NFL team will make their Draft selections throughout the three days.
Selection Square is free and will include a reserved seating section, and NFL Network produced live programming all three days of the Draft. Upon selection, Draft picks in attendance will be featured outside in Selection Square for interviews in front of the crowd.
Fans wishing to attend the Draft will still be able to get tickets, but they will have to choose between the events in the Theater or in Selection Square as both will be closed off during the draft.
A variety of other interactive displays and events will be available to fans in Draft Town, however, including a "Team House" for each NFL franchise, mock Scouting Combine drills, a display from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and more. All the details can be found at the NFL's website here.
For Packers fans in Wisconsin, it should be a relatively short drive down to Chicago for these events, and Green Bay will likely be better-represented this year than in the past when the event was held in Manhattan. Presumably, the league hopes that fans will be encouraged to travel to Draft Town, regardless of whether or not they plan to or are able to obtain tickets to the Draft venues.
For fans in reasonable driving distance: will these new announcements make you more likely to try to travel to Chicago for this year's Draft?