Host Cities Hauled in $500 Million on the NFL Draft Since Event Has Moved

From the Super Bowl to the NFL combine, the National Football League generates massive business, raking in billions of dollars annually, and a city that partners with the league, particularly for its annual draft, can reap a huge financial benefit.

The 2022 NFL draft gets underway in Las Vegas on Thursday evening with teams making their first-round selections. While fame and fortune are likely to follow those players whose names are called, cities that have played host to the draft have also brought in quite a bit of money.

From 1965 to 2014, the draft was held in New York City. Since 2015, however, the NFL has moved the event from city to city.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Since 2015, when the NFL began moving the draft around, cities have benefited financially from hosting the annual event. Above, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the podium during the draft in Cleveland on April 29, 2021. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Chicago, where the draft took place in 2015 and 2016, was first up on the NFL travel plans. In 2015, the Chicago Tribune reports the city saw about $44 million in economic impact, and 2016 saw a similar number, with the two-year total coming in at around $81 million.

Philadelphia was up next in 2017, and the city saw more than 250,000 people visit during the draft. The Philly Voice reported that Philadelphia, which had expected to bring in $80 million, actually generated nearly $100 million in economic impact.

Dallas' AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, hosted the 2018 NFL draft. According to the NFL, Dallas brought in a little more than $125 million in total economic impact. The league said somewhere near 200,000 people visited the city for the event.

In 2019, Nashville hosted the affair, and it proved to be a huge success for the city, which according to Fox Business, generated more than $220 million in economic impact during the event.

Approximately 600,000 people, nearly equal to the population of Nashville, descended upon city for the festivities, which also featured Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley in concert.

In 2020, like most things, the NFL draft was disrupted. Instead of taking place in Las Vegas as had been scheduled, the event was held virtually. The NFL will make that up this year, as the draft is set to take place at Allegiant Stadium, beginning Thursday evening.

Some expect a record turnout for the draft this year, with Fox 5 reporting as many as 500,000 people could descend upon the city. The economic impact from those crowds is also expected to be huge, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"It's going to be a historic weekend with tremendous economic implications for Las Vegas, given the level of visitation we're expecting and prepared to welcome," Virginia Valentine, the president and CEO of the Nevada Resort Association told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The 2021 draft returned with an in-person format in Cleveland, which saw a little more than $40 million in total economic impact from the three-day event, according to 19 News in Cleveland. That number was down considerably from previous drafts, possibly due to the lingering effects of the pandemic, the station reports.

In 2023, Kansas City will host the draft. It is also expected to benefit economically from the draft, with millions of dollars projected to be spent there KSHB reports.

In 2024, draft moves to Detroit, which was announced as the host city earlier this month in a ceremony that featured speeches by dignitaries and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell said that Detroit could take insomewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million from having the draft in their city, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Newsweek reached out to the NFL for comment.