After the successful draft this year, NFL owners have agreed to return to Chicago for the 2016 NFL Draft.
“We are excited to return to Chicago and look forward to creating an even better experience for our fans next year,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Based on the success of last year’s draft and our high expectations for the 2016 draft, Chicago continues to raise the bar for future drafts.”
Goodell was joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel during the owners meeting in Schaumburg, Illinois. Rumors ran that the meeting’s focus was on expansion of the league back to Los Angeles after more than 20 years of being left without a team. LA remains the largest team without a franchise in the largest revenue-generating American sport, despite being the second-largest city in the nation.
The news, coming on the second day of the meetings, was not a complete surprise. The three-day even at the end of April saw more than 200,000 visitors attend the fan festival at Grant Park, bringing in nearly $44 million in tax revenue for the city from hotel, dining and sales taxes, as well as temporary jobs to build, maintain and dismantle the festival.
The original deal with the NFL was for Chicago to host the draft for one year after the traditional home, Radio City Music Hall, could not accommodate the event in April or May because of other commitments. Because of the outdoor stadium in Soldier Field and the brutally cold winters, the NFL Draft is the biggest event the Windy City can nab, with more than 8.8 million people tuning in to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first pick.