Football is a huge deal in the United States. According to the National Football League (NFL), its 2014 season had 17.6 million viewers on average per game, and about 205 million Americans watched at least one football game that season. Most impressive, 34 of the 35 most-watched fall TV shows in the U.S. were football games. The only non-NFL program to rank was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which only came in at number 22. According to the Nielsen Company, some 114.4 million people tuned in for last January’s Super Bowl XLIX, making it the most watched TV event in history.
What many don’t realize, though, is that there’s another huge event every football season besides the Super Bowl: Draft Day.
Last year, the NFL Draft drew a record 45.7 million viewers across its three days of coverage, breaking the record set in 2010. It was also the biggest NFL draft on Twitter, with more than 9.6 million tweets being sent out about it. More than 10 million people saw tweets about the draft each of its three days.
This year, the draft is leaving its usual spot in New York City, and heading to Chicago. The NFL is taking over Roosevelt College’s Auditorium Theatre, and some 900,000-square feet of Grant Park to build an entire “Draft Town” to celebrate the event.
The event will last all three days of the draft, and use open-air, temporary structures to house such attractions as a Super Bowl museum, private youth clinics, family football clinics, flag football tournaments for both youths and adults, and more. Best of all, no matter what the weather is, the Draft Town will happen, as similar fabric structures offer wind load rating from 75 to 120 miles per hour, and snow load or live load ratings ranging from 12 to 40 pounds per square foot.
“When we decided to move the draft out of New York for the first time in 51 years, it really gave us a chance to re-imagine what the draft could be,” Peter O’Reilly, senior vice president of events for the NFL, told CFB 24/7. “Every year we can’t really satisfy the demand for fans that want to be inside the theater, so now we’re creating this Draft Town in Grant Park, just across from the Auditorium Theatre, in order to allow more fans to experience the excitement of the draft.”
The question now is not how successful this draft will be, but whether or not the 2015 draft will break 2014’s record.