NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Music City has emerged as the “leading contender” to host the 2019 NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed the news to ESPN 102.5 The Game and a decision is expected to be announced at the Spring League Meeting in Atlanta, GA May 21-23.
According to Schefter, in the “unlikely” occurrence that Nashville does not receive the event in 2019, the city will receive primary consideration for 2020. Other cites in contention are Kansas City, Denver, Las Vegas, and a combination of Cleveland and Canton, Ohio, where the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located.
The NFL Draft was hosted at Radio City Music Hall in New York for nine years but was moved to Chicago (2015-16), Philadelphia (2017) and Arlington, Texas (2018) most recently.
In a conversation with ESPN 102.5 on Monday, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. Butch Spyridon expressed optimism in the city’s bid for one of the league’s premiere events. The push to bring the draft to Nashville, according to Spyridon, began in 2011 in conjunction with the Tennessee Titans.
“It wasn’t even a pipe dream back then,” Spyridon said.
Nashville received national attention in April, when the Titans held a uniform reveal party on Lower Broadway to unveil the team’s updated look. The event featured appearances from the team’s star players, new head coach Mike Vrabel, general manager Jon Robinson, controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and a concert by Florida Georgia Line. Representatives from the NFL were also reportedly on-hand to see how the proceedings would be handled.
An estimated 20,000 people were in attendance.
“I sent a photo to Peter O’Reilly (NFL Senior VP – Events) after the Titan event,” Spyridon told ESPN 102.5 The Game. “I just said: ‘20,000 people, Lower Broad(way). Not bad for a fashion show.’ We were further along than the one event but seeing the community and the team and the fans all come together and produce an event like that.
“Knowing that public works, police, us, Sports Council and the Titans, everybody’s on the same page that can make this happen. That’s the key message: We can deliver a unique event and we have the support everywhere we need it.”
In an interview with the Tennessean in February, Spyridon said that the city’s pitch would incorporate multiple venues and additional concerts. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the legendary Ryman Auditorium, Grand Old Opry House, Ascend Amphitheater and Music City Center convention hall would all be featured. Each of the locations is centered around Lower Broadway and the city’s infamous honky tonks and positioned directly across the Cumberland River from Nissan Stadium, where the Titans play their home games.
The centrality of it’s downtown’s design makes Nashville particularly well suited to host the event.
“We’re a strong leisure destination,” Spyridon told ESPN 102.5. “The destination appeal will make the draft in Nashville, if we’re fortunate, a destination event…Our package of venues, entertainment, restaurants and hotels is as good as anybody’s and our big event experience is probably as important as anything. CMA’s (Nashville Predators Stanley Cup) watch parties last year, Julth 4th, New Year’s Eve, all of that. We’ve been honing our skills to go after these one-off mega events that we deserve. All of that shows up.
“(Vegas) has more money, more hotels, more entertainment than anybody. But I still think that the difference for us is, in Vegas (the NFL) might get lost and in Nashville they will own the city.”