September 01, 2016

Philly's big gain: NFL Draft means tens of millions of dollars for local economy

'It's really going to showcase Philadelphia,' Temple professor says

The three-day NFL Draft is coming to Philadelphia next spring.

And with it comes an estimated $80 million in economic impact, according to one analysis.

The Sport Industry Research Center, run by Temple University's School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, studied the impact that the last two NFL Drafts had on Chicago, the host city.

"We found that the economic impact for year one was $81 million," said Jeremy Jordan, the center's director. "In year two, it was very consistent with that. Our overarching evaluation was that it did have significant value to the city of Chicago."

Related story:  Philly will host 2017 NFL Draft

Jordan expects Philadelphia to reap at least the $81 million witnessed by Chicago, particularly because the city is located within driving distances of several major metropolitan areas. Many of them, like New York and Pittsburgh, have rabid fan bases.

"I think it's a positive thing for the city," Jordan said. "It's really going to showcase Philadelphia. I think it's a great thing that the Sports Congress has done to get this bid and bring it to Philadelphia."

The April 27-29 draft in Philadelphia is the annual event's third different venue in the past four years.

New York City hosted the draft for more than 50 years before the NFL decided to move the event from city to city. The Windy City went first, hosting back-to-back drafts in 2015 and 2016. Now Philadelphia, which hosted the first-ever draft in 1936, will get its turn.

Philadelphia last hosted the NFL Draft in 1961, decades before it transformed into a sports phenomenon. Sportswriters, broadcasters and talk show hosts spend weeks discussing the upcoming draft, debating potential selections.

Upon being drafted, players will walk up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to greet Commissioner Roger Goodell. Such images are invaluable to the tourism industry.

"I think the NFL understands that this is something that people want, based on the exposure and the value," Jordan said.

After hosting two large-scale events within the last 12 months — the September 2015 visit by Pope Francis and the Democratic National Convention in July — this should be a cinch for Philadelphians.

The NFL Draft certainly is far smaller than those two events, which were designated National Special Security events. 

Yet, Jordan said its economic impact will be bigger than that of the Philadelphia Marathon, and perhaps on par with the New York City Marathons, which brings New York about $100 million.

Having analyzed the travel behaviors of attendees in Chicago, Jordan expects incoming NFL fans to tour the city. In Chicago, he said the tourism industry flourished as hotels, restaurants and retail outlets reported increased business.

The Sports Industry Research Center tracked the response of nearly 1,500 attendees at the Chicago drafts. More than half of them identified as having traveled from outside Cook County, Illinois. About 65 percent stayed in hotel rooms, generating more than 21,800 hotel nights.