Move over Navy Pier.
Last year, the NFL Draft moved to Chicago, and more than 200,000 came out to see everything it had to offer.
Grant Park was morphed into NFL Draft Town, an interactive fan area that hosted a variety of football-themed events, signings, flag football leagues, and a massive screen that projected draft proceedings to the masses.
This year, NFL Draft Town is back, and it’s getting a major upgrade. We were all impressed by last year’s 768,000-square-foot stretch, but this year we’ll be getting 960,000 square feet of football greatness.
With the expansion comes new scenery. While last year’s festival was closer to Michigan Ave, this year will take to the lakefront with TV sets and the draft’s “Selection Square” where picks are announced encircling Buckingham Fountain.
Now for the most important detail– the Ferris wheel. For us, this is by far the coolest addition to the festival. This 120-foot monster will be housed right on the Grant Park lawn (near Van Buren Street). Not only will this be a welcomed attraction for the kiddos, it will provide killer views of the skyline and the draft as it’s happening. It doesn’t get much better than that.
While we have yet to receive a list of food vendors, musical acts, and entertainment – we can be sure that this year will be bigger and better than the last.
Word on the street is the NFL is discussing making Chicago its permanent home for the NFL Draft, and we can’t say that we would mind one bit.
Date & Time:
- Thursday, April 28: 12PM – 10PM
- Friday, April 29: 12PM – 10PM
- Saturday, April 30: 10AM – 6PM
Here’s a breakdown of 2015’s offerings:
- A Super Bowl Museum featuring Bears memorabilia, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Super Bowl rings and the AFC and NFC Conference Championship Trophies.
- The Draft Tavern Presented by Bud Light – “The hottest place to drink the coldest beer.”
- Grant Park’s Buckingham Fountain will be lit up reflecting team colors during the Draft’s first two nights.
- A Sweetness Simulator offers fans an opportunity to soar just like Chicago Bears legendary running back Walter Payton, (Sweetness) in a wind tunnel skydive simulator.
- Run Like the Wind tests fans running speed alongside a 40-yard long LED screen featuring NFL stars running the 40-yard dash.
- AFC & NFC Row/Team Houses is a mini-village featuring all 32 NFL clubs’ “Team Houses” filled with unique club content and memorabilia.
- NFL PLAY 60 Zone offers an interactive area for kids and families that includes an obstacle course, mobile app gaming, green screen photo opportunity, the NFL PLAY 60 Bus and more.
- Draft Town Autograph Stage featuring free autographs from NFL Legends and current NFL players. (Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1: 4 to 9:30 pm; Saturday, May 2, 10 am to 6 pm)
- Chi-Chefs Kitchen will feature selections from some of Chicago’s best restaurants including Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, Black Dog Gelato, County Barbecue, Dia De Los Tamales, FEAST, Wow Bao and more.
For more information on last year’s Draft Town, you can check out our guide. We’ll write up a similar guide for this year’s version as soon as all of the information becomes available.