DENVER (CBS4) – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said it is “very likely” the draft will move to another city in 2017 after two years in Chicago.
The league had been conducting the draft in New York City for 50 consecutive years — since 1964 — until deciding in 2015 to offer up the three-day event to bids from other cities.
The draft exceeded expectations last year and the 2016 event will be held in downtown Chicago again starting Thursday night with the first round.
“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Goodell said during an informal meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday. “We were very pleased.”
Chicago city officials estimated 250,000 fans attended the downtown weekend draft event last year and the NFL estimates were closer to 200,000, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The NFL is expecting 300,000 this year.
Competition for the event has increased and a site for the 2017 draft likely will be announced in July.
“I think the draft will be back in Chicago,” Kara Bachman, the executive director of the Chicago Sports Commission, told the Sun-Times. “I don’t know for ’17, but it will certainly be back.”
The NFL sent a memo to all the teams asking if their cities would be interested in hosting the draft in future years.
The Broncos and the city of Denver want to host the 2019 draft in the league’s 100th season.
Canton, Ohio, also is trying to get a draft at the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019 or 2020, and the possibility of hosting drafts was part of the Rams’ successful relocation bid to Los Angeles.