It was just over six years ago, during my first month with Steelers Depot, during which Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II expressed his interest in perhaps helping the city of Pittsburgh host the NFL Draft at some point in the future.
“Sure, I’d like to see the draft move around (to other cities), and I would love to see it come to Pittsburgh some time”, he told the team’s website in an article no longer accessible. “It’s a great event and attracts tremendous fan interest. It would be a fun event for Pittsburgh to host, and I think our city could do a great job with it”.
Since then, seemingly little or nothing, on the surface, has been done to help further their bid to host the draft. But apparently there have been plans made, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently learned.
Adam Bittner quotes mayoral chief of staff Dan Gilman in saying that “we talked about what a draft zone could look like at Point State Park with the draft at one of the theaters in the theater district”, also discussing the culture district, and even the possibility of the use of autonomous cars to transport players between destinations in the city for related events.
By ‘we’, he is referring to the city, and Bittner relates that Pittsburgh and the Steelers have had discussions about a potential hosting bid, “that it is willing and able to work with the team on a bid, but the team would have to take a leadership role in any such endeavor”, only they have not yet, reportedly, done so.
Steelers director of communications did tell the paper that they are interested in “pursuing hosting the NFL draft at the appropriate time”, but that is the extent to which the matter was discussed. Perhaps they do not want to reveal the nature or depth of their plans.
Currently, outside of 2022, the early slot open for bidding to host the NFL Draft is for 2024, as those for 2020, 2021, and 2023 have already been handed out, so unless they bid for the 2022 NFL Draft, they will have several years of possible preparation.
Cleveland was chosen earlier this year as the site to host the 2021 NFL Draft, and Las Vegas, who will soon be getting the Raiders, will host next year. When might Pittsburgh get its turn? And when will the Steelers let us know when they intend to make a push for it?
The league will listen to bids for the upcoming drafts not already assigned at some point later in the fall, most likely, according to Bittner. If all sites up to 2026 are awards based on the bidding process that goes on then, one would hope that Pittsburgh intends to be involved in that discussion. The city certainly seems to at least.