The NFL announced on Wednesday morning that the 2019 NFL Draft will be held in Nashville. This wasn’t much of a surprise, as reports have said for several weeks that this was a highly likely outcome.
The pick is IN!
— NFL (@NFL) May 23, 2018
For decades, the NFL Draft was held annually in New York City. In recent years, the NFL has essentially taken the draft on-tour to various NFL markets. This has been possible because of the event’s immense popularity.
The first draft to not be held in New York in fifty years was the 2015 NFL Draft, which was held in Chicago. The following year’s draft was also held in Chicago. The previous two drafts, 2017 and 2018, were held in Philadelphia and Dallas, respectively.
Each of those three markets (Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dallas) has a rich NFL history. The Bears, Eagles, and Cowboys each have at least one Super Bowl victory to their name. Each franchise also has a handful of former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
From a history standpoint, Nashville and the Tennessee Titans are polar opposites from those three franchises. Their nineteen-year history comes up very short in comparison with the other host cities. They have no Super Bowl championships.
Besides Bruce Matthews and Randy Moss (who played a mostly meaningless eight games with the Titans in the backend of his career) they have no former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Additionally, the Bears, Eagles, and Cowboys have massive brand appeal as a result of their rich histories. The Titans often become the NFL’s “red-headed stepchild,” especially during their recent years of utter irrelevancy.
Despite these particular shortcomings in comparison to previous hosts of the NFL Draft, Nashville was the odds-on favorite all along to be granted the 2019 Draft. There has also been a lot of excitement from NFL fans and media members all across the country regarding the situation.
Nashville was awarded the 2019 draft. It’s now official (and awesome).
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 23, 2018
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) May 23, 2018
Nashville is going to be a splendid host for the 2019 NFL Draft.
— Adam Rank (@adamrank) May 23, 2018
There are a number of reasons why Nashville was granted the opportunity to host the NFL Draft. Nashville Mayor David Briley detailed some of those reasons in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
“Nashville is really the best place in the country for this kind of event. We have the right venues, the right hotels, the right restaurants, the best music, and the one and only Lower Broadway.”
It certainly didn’t hurt Nashville’s chances that the city was able to pull off the uber-successful Titans uniform unveiling event. NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo noted on Monday that the NFL “definitely took notice” of the event’s success and that it “certainly helped Nashville’s cause.”
However, it was not just one event or one characteristic of the city that propelled Nashville to the position the city finds itself in. Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, echoed that idea.
“It wasn’t any one thing, it was everything we do every day as a city.” Spyridon also noted that Nashville’s recent history of hosting big events, such as the NHL All-Star Game and CMA Fest really helped prove Nashville’s worth as a host to the NFL.
Logistically, Nashville also has the perfect venues for hosting the NFL Draft. The event requires space for the draft stage, where the actual picks are announced by the commissioner; selection square, where representatives from the 32 teams set up shop to make the picks; and multiple areas for fans to experience.
Venues possibilities mentioned by Spyridon in his Wednesday press conference included Nissan Stadium, the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge over the Cumberland River, Lower Broadway, the Music City Center, and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Nashville is obviously well-suited for hosting the NFL Draft. They have the logistics, a track record, and the Titans have outstanding leadership in controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and President Steve Underwood.
Whether the city is capable of hosting and managing the event isn’t even a question. But, if Nashville’s recent history means anything, they will not only be able to manage the event but take it to another level.
There is arguably no city other than Nashville in America where thousands of hockey fans would crowd a street and stand shoulder to shoulder while watching a hockey game on a giant television.
And what other NFL team could convince 20,000 fans to gather on a freezing weekday evening to watch a new uniform be unveiled, a uniform that had already been leaked two days prior on social media? The free concert by Florida Georgia Line certainly didn’t hurt the situation, but it’s a highly impressive feat nonetheless.
The city of Nashville doesn’t host events. Instead, they throw parties. The NFL Draft is going to be the next big, and possibly the biggest ever, party in Music City.
The draft began as a conference where a bunch of guys in suits sat at tables in a ballroom and decided on the players they wanted to select. Over the years, the draft has become a made-for-primetime spectacle.
Interest in the NFL Draft, both from a media and fan perspective, has hit an unprecedented level in recent years. It is no longer something that only football nerds have stock in—every NFL fan, for the most part, has interest.
While nobody knows any exact details for how Nashville will manage the draft, it really doesn’t matter. Whatever they do is going to be a massive success.
One thing is certain about middle Tennesseans in general: they are passionate about sports. Put them in the center of an event like the draft, add national media and other fans from across the country, and you have a recipe for success.
It’s no wonder why Nashville was selected to host the 2019 NFL Draft. The city will absolutely knock it out of the park.