Teams, future players, hopefuls and fans arrive in Nashville
On Thursday, April 25, the 2019 NFL Draft kicks off in Nashville, Tenn. The best in college football will be waiting to hear their name spoken by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the fans of the teams that select them will look ahead to the upcoming season with fresh faces and optimism.
While the NFL Draft is produced like a made-for-TV 24-hour news network, the event itself in the host city has become another major platform for the NFL to attract brands to sponsor moments surrounding it. Ever since the Draft left New York in 2014, where it was held since 1965, cities are now competing to host. This year, Nashville is the number one pick and will bring entertainment to fans like they have never experienced before.
We talked to Vice President Matt Wray about the NFL Draft to get his thoughts on the evolution of the event and what he’s looking forward to this year.
How has the NFL turned this off-season event into a must-see, must-be-at, must-host event?
First and foremost, by bringing the action to the fans. Consider that more than 463,000 fans registered to win free single-day tickets to the draft last year in Dallas with more than 200,00 fans attending the three-day event. The old adage of “fish where the fish are” is so apropos in this example.
What a fantastic idea to travel the draft to different NFL cities and engage fans in those markets to make them feel and be part of the excitement of literally experiencing life-changing moments for players, their families and perhaps the market of the team that drafts them.
Nashville expects to have over 300,000 fans downtown for the event spanning both sides of the Cumberland River complete with live coverage of the Draft and of course…LIVE MUSIC!
Why have major cities like Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago and Nashville bid to bring the NFL Draft to their city?
The economic impact for the cities is astounding. Last year, Dallas set a record with the NFL Draft generating over $125 million in economic impact for the region over three days, and $74 million in direct spending. (i)
The draft also provides the backdrop for the team in that city to engage in a massive amount of community outreach and engagement, strengthening the ties with their home community during a traditional “quiet” time for NFL franchises in market. (ii)
Nashville has done a wonderful job hosting large sporting events and weaving them into the Nashville music scene. This year they’ll definitely be incorporating iconic music and city landmarks that stretch on the famed Lower Broadway all the way to Nissan Stadium.
How have brands stood out at the NFL Draft?
In 2018, a record number of NFL corporate partners (27) participated in the three-day Draft activities in Dallas including Hyundai, Anheuser-Busch, Dannon Yogurt, Verizon and Pizza Hut – just to name a few.
The Draft provides the NFL, their brand partners and the local NFL franchise an opportunity to reach fans that may never step inside an NFL stadium during the course of the season.
Fan engagement opportunities that brands will be part of this year include live concerts with music icons Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley and the NFL Draft Experience, a three-day football festival at Nissan Stadium, the largest festival football ever created by the NFL.
What are you looking forward to with the 2019 NFL Draft?
Given last year’s record combined ratings and viewership, I am interested to see how the NFL Draft performs for the first time ever on ABC with two nights of primetime coverage. I am also anxious to see how the coverage and commentary of the ESPN College Gameday crew on ABC contrasts with that of the “traditional” NFL gurus on ESPN and NFL Network.
I am also really looking forward to the evolution of the NFL 100 campaign. After the incredibly fun Super Bowl commercial, perhaps the NFL has only wet the whistle of what’s to come. (iii)
(i) - The NFL, '2018 NFL Draft generates record $125.2 million for Dallas region'
(ii) - Second Harvest Food Bank, 'NFL Huddle Against Hunger
(iii) - The NFL, 'NFL stars converge for epic NFL 100 commercial'