by Ryan Freebing
The pick is in. For the first time ever, Nashville has been chosen to host the 2019 National Football League Draft. This upcoming spectacle will be a one of a kind event and resemble a downtown music festival as much as any die-hard football fan’s ultimate dream. Around-the-clock live musical performances and events will transform Broadway and Nissan Stadium into an outdoor sports festival for the ages.
The draft will primarily take place on April 25-27 at the end of lower Broadway near the Cumberland River. “An enormous stage will be constructed at the intersection of First Avenue and Broadway where players will emerge to hug Commissioner Roger Goodell and pose for photos after they are drafted,” reports the Tennessean.
Over the years, the NFL Draft has evolved from a two-night television broadcast inside a relatively small New York theater, to a multi-day expo-like extravaganza attracting around 30,000 tourists and fans and a combined 45 million television and online viewers across multiple networks. Here’s everything you need to know before this soon-to-be epic event.
When is the event?
Where will it be?
The draft will be spread out across multiple venues in downtown Nashville, but most events will be on lower Broadway and Nissan Stadium.
How can I watch the event?
In Nashville, fans can attend the entire event free of charge and watch on a first-come, first-serve basis. Space will be limited. Large viewing screens will be arranged all along lower Broadway. President and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp Butch Spyridon has high expectations and is expecting a crowd of over 100,000 fans to join the event. If you prefer to watch from home though, the NFL Draft will be simultaneously broadcasted on ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network.
What are the other event sites?
On the east bank of the Cumberland River adjacent to Nissan Stadium, the NFL will also set up a draft village called the NFL Draft Experience with a plethora of interactive games, food trucks, and more live music. Just like Broadway, the draft village is available to everyone for free. “I can’t say this enough,” stated Spyridon, “Everything is free and open to the public.”
While honky-tonks will be rocking with pre and post-show entertainment, the event will also feature two stages with live music located on each side of the river. Names of the artists who will perform during the draft, including performances during the television broadcasts, have not been released, but Spyridon said the lineup will include “A-list acts and cover multiple genres to highlight all the best Nashville has to offer,” the Tennessean reports.
What is the NFL Draft Experience?
The NFL Draft Experience is a free, three-day festival where football fans can gather and enjoy games, interactive exhibits, virtual reality experiences, and more. No tickets are required for entry. The area will include an autograph stage with current players and legends, interactive games, football clinics and a Play 60 Zone for small fans. The Lombardi Trophy will also be on display for photographs too.
Why is this a big deal?
Simply stated by Nashville Mayor David Briley, “The NFL Draft will be one of the biggest sports events in the history of Tennessee – another great opportunity for Nashville to welcome the world and show fans, players and media what we’re all about.” Nashville beat out virtually every other NFL city for the right to host this event and it will put Nashville on display for millions of people during one of the biggest entertainment events Nashville has ever seen.
From 1964 to 2014, the NFL Draft has been exclusively hosted in New York City. In 2015 and 2016, Chicago hosted the event, it’s eight and ninth time to host the event.
Philadelphia hosted for the 13th time in 2017, and Arlington, Texas, hosted this past year. It was the first time the event was held in a football stadium and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t disappoint.
On top of that, Nashville has been putting its name in the hat to host the draft for nearly a decade.
How does this affect me?
Die-hard football fans can expect to be showered with a bewildering show, one they will remember for a lifetime. Unrelated to football, if you’re not a fan of the NFL, you might be affected by the traffic. The St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon is scheduled for the same weekend, April 25-28. The Saturday morning race itself will end at Nissan Stadium, as it has in the past.
A Bridgestone Arena Jimmy Buffett concert on Saturday night will bring even more fans to the downtown area.
To top it off, if the Predators advance to the second round in the Stanley Cup playoffs (Go Preds), there will no doubt be a game scheduled around that time as well. So odds are the streets of Nashville will be flooded with locals and tourists alike. If you’ll be out during this weekend, plan ahead and expect road closures in the area.
Sources: Organ, Mike. (2018, Nov. 28) NFL draft, Nashville marathon planners coordinate two gigantic events happening at same time. https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/nfl/titans/2018/11/28/nfl-draft-2019-date-nashville-marathon-abc-espn-college-gameday/2118960002. Kennedy, Eleanor. (2019, Feb. 4) Scouting report: What to expect when the NFL descends on Nashville. https://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2019/02/04/scouting-report-what-to-expect-when-the-nfl.html. Rau, Nate. (2019, Jan. 30) First look: Music and football will transform Lower Broadway, Nissan Stadium into NFL Draft spectacle. https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/nfl/draft2019/2019/01/30/nfl-draft-2019-nashville-broadway-nissan-stadium-experience/2705852002.`