CHICAGO — After a two-year run in Chicago, the NFL may be about to move the draft to another city — possibly Philadelphia — as soon as next year.
“It’s a chance for us to share our game with the fans and make this event even more special than it was before,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday at a pre-draft event. “Frankly, [Chicago’s] success has created a lot of interest around the country. For us, being able to take this and continuing to evolve the event is something that’s important to us. We’d like to be able to rotate in the future.”
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As soon as next year?
“We haven’t made any final decisions, but we have a lot of interest from other cities,” Goodell said. “It’s based off the success that has happened here in Chicago. They all want to take their shot at it and try to take the draft to another level, which we’re interested in.”
Goodell said Philadelphia already has expressed interest, in addition to several other cities he declined to identify.
“I know [Philadelphia] is one of the cities bidding,” Goodell said. “I know they’re interested in it, and we’re interested in Philadelphia, among the other cities. We’ve got a lot of interest. We want to sit down after we’re done and see what the best decision is for the NFL.”
Goodell said he expected the league would announce a decision about the 2017 draft “probably in the next 60-90 days.”
The Chicago event was a rousing success last year, with hundreds of thousands of people gathering in Grant Park along Lake Michigan for the final day of the three-day event.
“A year ago, we didn’t know if there would be 10,000 people here, 20,000 people and it turned out to be 250,000,” Goodell said. “There was great interest from Thursday through Saturday. From our standpoint, we learned that the fans really want to participate. They want to engage in this if we give them the right platform. Chicago did that. From our standpoint, allowing the people in, getting an opportunity to see these great young prospects and just to participate in the draft is something we want to improve on. We’ll keep looking to see how we can do that.”
Goodell did not discount the possibility that Chicago would host a future draft, although it appears the league is ready to hold the draft elsewhere before considering a return here.