NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A decision has been made: Music City will host the 2019 NFL Draft.
“We are thrilled for the city of Nashville, our fans and our team, that we have been selected to host the 2019 NFL Draft,” said Amy Adams Strunk, Tennessee Titans Controlling Owner. “The city and the Titans put a lot of effort into this proposal and we can’t wait to see it come to life next year. I personally would like to thank Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL for this opportunity; Metro Nashville Government, led by Mayor David Briley; Butch Spyridon at the CVC; Scott Ramsey at the Sports Council; and all those who have contributed to this effort. Nashville is known as an entertainment destination and we look forward to showing the football world what that looks like on a very big stage.”
The announcement was made Wednesday at the Spring League Meeting in Atlanta, Ga. One of five cities being considered for the event in either 2019 or 2020, Nashville beat out Las Vegas, the combination of Cleveland and Canton, Ohio, Denver and Kansas City.
“Following an exciting and successful event in Dallas, we’re thrilled to take the NFL Draft to Nashville. The city has a passionate fan base and offers iconic locations that will enable us to expand the Draft in unique ways,” said Goodell. “We look forward to working with the Tennessee Titans, the City of Nashville, and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp to deliver a memorable celebration of football to our fans and incoming players.”
A source informed ESPN Nashville on April 29 that the city was “the front-runner” to put on the 2019 Draft. That speculation was later confirmed when ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out on May 10 that Nashville had emerged as the “leading contender” over the four other locations.
The NFL Draft spent nine years at New York’s Radio City Music Hall before being moved to Chicago (2015-16), Philadelphia (2017) and Arlington, Texas (2018) most recently. As the league looked to infuse one of it’s annual premiere events with more local flavor from each of its clubs, Nashville began the initial push in 2011, in conjunction with the Tennessee Titans, to bring the Draft to Tennessee’s state capital, according to CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. Butch Spyridon.
“It wasn’t even a pipe dream back then,” Spyridon told ESPN Nashville. “I sent a photo to Peter O’Reilly (NFL Senior VP – Events) after the Titan (uniform reveal) 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.”
Spyridon told the Tennessean in February that Nashville’s pitch would incorporate multiple venues in the city’s downtown/Lower Broadway area and feature concerts like the performance put on by Florida Georgia Line at Tennessee’s uniform reveal. 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.
When asked about the economic impact the Draft will have on the city, Nashville Sports Council President and CEO Scott Ramsey told ESPN Nashville that, “I don’t have a number to give you, but it will undoubtedly be the biggest economic impact for a sports event in our city’s history. And, most likely, the most media coverage” Nashville has received.
“We’re a strong leisure destination,” Spyridon told ESPN ESPN Nashville earlier this month before the announcement had been made. “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.”