NFL Draft

D.C. Hopes to Host NFL Draft by 2027

NFL Draft

Multiple sources familiar with the ongoing discussions say the District of Columbia (D.C.) and the Washington Commanders are actively pursuing the opportunity to host a future NFL draft, with optimism that the nation’s capital could be selected as soon as 2027.

While confidence runs high among some D.C. representatives and Commanders officials, others within the NFL caution that the competition is stiff. Many cities with NFL franchises are vying for the chance to host this increasingly popular and lucrative event.

A source indicated that the Commanders were one of 12 teams represented in Detroit at this year’s draft to conduct site surveys. The 2027 draft is the next available opportunity, with Green Bay set to host in 2025 and Pittsburgh announced as the 2026 host.

The timeline for awarding the 2027 draft remains uncertain. Although team owners meet quarterly, the selection process might extend until next May, based on the schedule followed for the 2026 draft announcement.

Details of Washington’s bid, including whether the National Mall would be utilized, remain undisclosed. However, an NFL delegation visited D.C. last fall to assess the area’s potential for hosting the event, according to multiple insiders.

Both the Commanders and NFL, along with Events DC—the official convention and sports authority for the District—declined to comment on the bid. Similarly, the National Park Service and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Historically, the NFL draft was held in New York until 2015, when it began moving to different cities annually. Philadelphia, Dallas, Nashville, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Kansas City, and most recently, Detroit have all hosted the event. The 2020 draft was conducted remotely due to the pandemic.

The NFL Draft in Detroit

Detroit’s draft last month attracted a record 775,000 fans over three days, as reported by the NFL. The broadcast of the opening round averaged 12.1 million viewers, surpassing the viewership of major sporting events like the World Series and Stanley Cup Finals.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the draft’s success, saying, “I don’t think any of us envisioned that it would be as big as it is. I think Detroit … was incredible. The passion of the fans, their enthusiasm for the event — it was just extraordinary, is the best way to say it. For us, when we thought about this, it really was in the context of we had just moved to prime time. We had shortened the rounds a little bit, all in the hopes that we could create something that was valuable to our fans.”

Goodell explained that the decision to move the draft from New York’s Radio City Music Hall was partly due to a scheduling conflict, leading to the event’s rotation among different cities. “Moving it around, it was one of those risk-benefit discussions that you have,” Goodell said. “We were very successful at Radio City. It is the media market of the world. … Certainly, we were in a really great position there. It just turned out that the facility wasn’t available in a given year. And we said, ‘Now’s the time. Let’s go.’ And I don’t think we’re looking back. We’re looking forward, including Pittsburgh.”

The NFL Draft in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney remarked on the high standards set by recent host cities. “Obviously, the bar is set very high lately with some great efforts by Detroit and Kansas City, most recently hosting the draft. I’m sure Green Bay will be great as well. So we’re looking forward to following in that tradition.”

The economic impact of hosting the draft can be substantial. Detroit officials estimated the event generated more than the initially projected $175 million to $200 million. Kansas City reported an economic impact of $164.3 million from the 2023 draft.

Rooney anticipates significant benefits for Pittsburgh. “We think it will be the largest visitor event in the history of Pittsburgh, hosting hundreds of thousands of people and, really, football fans from all over the country,” he said. “Certainly Steelers Nation from all over the country, we think will come for a visit. So we just look forward to hosting that. It will be an exciting time.”

Some believe that D.C. might have secured an NFL draft earlier if not for the controversies surrounding former Commanders owner Daniel Snyder. D.C. and the Commanders had aimed to host the 2024 draft, planning to utilize multiple sites across the city, but the event was awarded to Detroit instead.

D.C is Hopeful About the Draft Coming to Town

Snyder sold the Commanders last year to an ownership group led by Josh Harris for $6.05 billion, which has renewed hope in the process. Some NFL owners see the value in a strong franchise in Washington, and hosting a high-profile event like the NFL draft would support this vision as the Commanders strive to reclaim their past glory under new ownership.

While Denver and Charlotte are strong contenders for the 2027 draft, many other cities are eager to be selected as future hosts, making the competition fierce.

As the deliberations continue, Washington, D.C., remains a hopeful and determined candidate, aiming to bring the NFL draft to the nation’s capital and showcase its unique appeal to football fans nationwide.

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