With plans and illustrations that suggest a football spectacle will be arriving in Grant Park later this month, it appears the NFL will take full advantage of the exposure and excitement generated by its first draft day celebration outside of New York. Renderings distributed by the Chicago Park District on Wednesday, which were posted on DNAinfo, outline the league's plans for the free fan party that will take place April 30 to May 2, just outside the actual draft proceedings in the Auditorium Theater. A 900,000 square-foot interactive fan area in Grant Park centered around Selection Square, Draft Town will feature a skydiving simulator, fields for flag football tournaments, a Super Bowl museum where fans can pose with the Lombardi trophy, and a bank of LED video screens that will let spectators run a simulated 40-yard dash against pro players. Banners featuring all 32 NFL teams, starting with the Bears, will begin to go up around town this week to promote the event.
Since a very limited number of fans will be able to get inside the Auditorium during draft day — only 8,600 tickets are available, and 76,000 people have already entered the lottery — the NFL has a more elaborate plan to involve the crowd in the selection process. All 32 teams will set up tables in Grant Park, and picks will be relayed from those tables, across a red carpet set up on Michigan Avenue, to officials inside the theater.
To accommodate the NFL's big event, the city will be providing many services free of charge, and turn over a large section of Grant Park from April 24 to May 6. While we weren't able to obtain exact figures, the scale of the event suggests a significant cost. The Emanuel administration has said no taxpayer money will be spent on the event, suggesting that Choose Chicago, the local tourism agency, will need to raise money to cover the events proposed $3-$4 million price tag.
·Take a Sneak Peek at the NFL's 'Draft Town' [DNAinfo]
·The NFL Will Be Taking Over Grant Park for Weeks During Draft [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Grant Park coverage [Curbed Chicago]