Keith Rivers discusses what it means to play in the NFL Hall of Fame game.
The 2014 NFL Draft is just a few days away, but one of the biggest subplots doesn’t involve any of the prospects. According to the New York Daily News, the NFL Draft may not use Radio City Music Hall as its venue starting as early as next year. Even though Radio City Music Hall contains 4,000 seats, the facility early on could not accommodate all of the fans trying to attend the draft live. Other New York venues such as Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center can’t provide a yearly guarantee to hold the event because of potential conflicts with the NBA and NHL playoffs.
That’s why Commissioner Roger Goodell has begun to explore other venues for the biggest event of the NFL offseason. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel for one has already been making an aggressive push towards landing the spectacle in their city. Any place would be lucky to have the publicity and local business boost that the NFL Draft brings.
So, what locations would make sense for the NFL Draft?
Los Angeles, like New York, is one of the top media markets in the country, if not the world. While it may not have an NFL team yet, Los Angeles is the home of the NFL Network and NFL Media. It would save the league a lot of money if it didn’t have to move a large production cross country for this event. The spotlight would shine on the major prospects and give the draft a Hollywood feel. Additionally, having the draft outside in great weather could be a fresh idea that intrigues the commissioner’s office.
One of Commissioner Goodell’s main objectives is to globalize the NFL. London already hosts one football game each season, so why not give international fans a bigger taste of the NFL experience? London has all of the amenities needed to host a large scale event, and holding the draft there even once could whet the appetites of current and future NFL fans in the United Kingdom.
One drawback would be the difference in time zones. The first round of the draft has always been on prime-time television on the East Coast. Would the NFL be willing to start earlier in the day in England to ensure that East Coast viewers don’t fall asleep by the middle of the first round?
The Defending Super Bowl Champion’s City
Sure, the Super Bowl champion already gets the perk of having its home stadium as the location of the first NFL regular season game. But why not reward that team even further by allowing it to win the offseason by hosting the draft?
It would send an unmistakable message to NFL prospects about the importance of winning a Super Bowl for your city. Seeing that location in a frenzy would speak volumes about how important a team is in boosting civic morale.
If the NFL truly wants to make its draft an experience, you can’t do much better than Vegas. The larger-than-life atmosphere would attract crowds from all across the country to attend the NFL Draft. The city has shown by hosting the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and two college basketball conference tournaments (Pac-12 and Mountain West) that it’s a fun location for a sporting event.
However, the NFL has repeatedly taken stands against legalizing sports betting nationally, and it’s historically been uneasy about any association with Las Vegas.
Who says the NFL has to move its draft to a major city? The NFL Draft would conceivably draw well at any location, so why not give it an added nostalgic element? The league was founded in Canton in 1920, and it’s where the NFL Hall of Fame is located. The surrounding greatness of the area would humble the prospects and show that the NFL isn’t always focused on the glitz and glamour, but rather on its grassroots. Aside from the annual Hall of Fame Game and ceremony, Canton doesn’t get a lot of national publicity for being the home of the NFL. Perhaps hosting the draft there would be a nice way to bring NFL fans to the Hall of Fame to celebrate the league’s stars of the past and future.