The NFL Draft has been a Radio City Music Hall staple since 2006, a festive, three-day event in which New York City becomes the center of the football universe for one weekend in April.
All that could change as the NFL discusses ways in which to change the way in which the draft is conducted. While there is no talk about adding or subtracting rounds, the possibility of moving the draft to other cities and other venues in the future has been discussed.
One reason behind this is that Radio City Music Hall is an incredibly busy venue and highly desirable among acts, shows and performances of all sorts. The 2014 Draft has already been rescheduled to May 8th-10th next year from its usual April slot due to the Music Hall having a scheduling conflict
The fact that the NFL Draft apparently isn’t big enough for the Music Hall to accommodate its time table, and the fact that the NFL hasn’t sought another venue is quite shocking, considering the revenues and hype the draft generates every year. It may be for this reason then that the NFL is talking about making changes for the 2015 draft.
Will Brinson at CBS mentions Chicago as a Round One host, Detroit as a Rounds Two and Three host, and Minneapolis as the host for Rounds Four through Seven. Another option would be to move the draft to a different NFL City every year. Brinson goes so far as to suggest that if the league does move to a three city format that it could pick different cities in the same division to host different rounds, such as the NFC North connection between Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis.
Of course, if the NFL chooses a different city, a question it should be asking itself is this: Why not Los Angeles?
Los Angeles hasn’t had an NFL team in 19 seasons. Any child born after the end of the 1994 season never had an opportunity to experience the Rams or Raiders at the Coliseum or the Rams at Anaheim Stadium. The second largest media market in the country has had a hard time getting a jump-start on building an appropriate, modern stadium and getting a team. The Coliseum and the Rose Bowl both are outdated. Anaheim Stadium has been converted into a baseball-only park again.
Dodger Stadium in a slight reconfiguration could make an interesting alternative venue, but again, its baseball-driven design and the fact that Walter O’Malley’s plans to allow the park to be expandable to 85,000 seats through enclosure never came to fruition and would make for a venue similar to bowl games held at AT&T Park in San Francisco: the surface can support the playing field, the stadium has the luxury boxes needed for high-revenue generation, but from above it just looks awkward. However, the plans to build Farmer’s Field near L.A. Live and Staples Center and Los Angeles Stadium in Industry have remained pipe dreams, and the NFL has no significant presence in the city to fuel fan enthusiasm.
A move by the draft to Los Angeles, even for one year, could signal a change in the wind. It would be the league saying “we miss L.A. L.A. is important to us. We want to be here. We want to have a team here. We want to build a stadium here and we are committed to putting our money where our mouth is about making it happen.” They could even host it in the north hall of the Convention Center and say “we’re going to make sure it gets built, and it’s going to be built right here, and it’s going to be beautiful. We’re going to bring in the bulldozers as soon as Mr. Irrelevant has been picked, tear this place down, and break ground on bringing the league back to this city.”
Changes in the NFL Draft could add more excitement and give fans all over the country to get a more in-depth look at this process. It could also be used to bring the NFL to cities where it feels there is a need to generate excitement about the league and its teams. Whether or not the NFL moves from New York, the Draft has become the most anticipated, talked-about event of the off-season, and it’s guaranteed to make a big splash wherever it goes.
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