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February 28, 2017

NFL unveils free outdoor football fan festival during draft in Philly

City expected to host 200,000 fans, generate $80 million

Philadelphia will become the center of the football universe later this spring as 200,000 fans are expected to descend upon the city during the 2017 NFL Draft.

The NFL and city officials announced Tuesday that visitors will be able to attend a free three-day outdoor football festival during the event set for April 27-29 along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The NFL Draft Experience will allow fans of all ages to snag autographs, get up close and personal with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, participate in NFL Combine tests and check out memorabilia from the sport.

“We stand ready to welcome visitors and residents to this one-of-a-kind experience,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “Philadelphia received international praise as an excellent host for both the pope and the Democratic National Convention, and we are very excited to add the NFL to our guest list.”

The fan festival will be held at Philadelphia Museum of Art near a specially-constructed theater where the draft will take place. Visitors will be able to access the exhibits, but need tickets to attend the draft.

Peter O’Reilly, the league's senior vice president of events, noted the the size of the NFL Draft Experience will span 25 football fields. Some of the events include:

• NFL Combine Corner – Fans can test their football and athletic skills

• NFL Virtual Reality – Experience games using virtual reality technology

• The Vince Lombardi Trophy – Fans can take photos with the Super Bowl trophy

• AFC and NFC Locker Rooms – Visit a replica NFL locker room as and experience pre-game sights with sleek translucent LCDs

• NFL Museum – Displays include Eagles memorabilia, Super Bowl rings and other league trophies. Fans can make a digitalized Pro Football Hall of Fame bronze bust in their likeness

• College Football Corner – Fans can view College Football Hall of Fame memorabilia from former first round picks and Eagles legends while cheering on prospects

• NFL Draft Experience Tailgate – Eat food from Philly's best restaurants

• NFL Network and ESPN Sets – Watch television personalities break down the draft

• NFL Shop at Draft – Buy draft merchandise

• NFL Draft Set – Check out the view from behind the podium

The festival will be open at the following times

• Thursday, April 27 from Noon-11 p.m.
• Friday, April 28 from Noon-11 p.m.
• Saturday, April 29 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, estimated that the draft will generate $80 million in economic impact for the city.

“The NFL Draft is truly a great opportunity for Philadelphia to shine on the national and international stage, and we are working alongside our hospitality partners to ensure that fans far and wide make the trip for this exciting event,” Coker Graham said.

The league has yet to release information on securing tickets for the draft, but claimed the theater will hold the largest live audience to witness the proceedings.

The draft will be held in Philly for the first time since 1961.