NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday that the 2016 NFL draft will take place in the Windy City. It's the second straight year Chicago will host the league's marquee offseason event.
Kevin Fishbain of ChicagoFootball.com provided the NFL's full release:
Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal notes more than 200,000 fans took part in the festival at Grant Park during the draft back in April. Trey Wingo of ESPN, one of the network's hosts for the event, applauded the choice to return:
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network notes going back to Chicago for a second time doesn't mean the draft is going to stay there for the foreseeable future. He expects Denver, Dallas, Miami, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles to be in the mix, along with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Canton, the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The 2015 draft was held at the Auditorium Theatre. Afterward, during an appearance on Mike & Mike, Goodell praised the city of Chicago for putting on a great event, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk: "We loved it. This was a great decision for us. It was a chance for us to reinvent the draft and the fans turned out, the city did a great job for us, and we're excited for the next couple days. It's really been terrific for us."
Goodell also downplayed the idea Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, the top two picks, skipped the draft because of the new location. He stated those were "personal decisions" and said the prospects who did attend "had a blast."
This past spring was the first time Chicago hosted the draft since 1964. It moved to New York City starting the following year and stayed there until 2014.
While there's no problem with the draft returning to Chicago for a second year following a successful showcase, the event should move around the league in the future. As Rapoport explained, it's a chance for cold-weather cities to get the league spotlight since hosting a Super Bowl isn't likely.
The NFL has grown the draft, a mundane procedural event on the surface, into a must-see attraction. Getting as many different fanbases involved as possible should be the goal. For now, however, it's found a new temporary home in Chicago.