Art Rooney Pushing NFL To Let Pittsburgh Host Future NFL Draft

The city of Pittsburgh has hosted a laundry list of events over the years. Sporting events, rock concerts, auto shows. But they’ve never hosted the NFL Draft. Sitting down with KDKA’s Bob Pompeani in his yearly off-season interview, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Team President Art Rooney II is pushing to change that.

He told Pompeani there’s been surface-level discussions about hosting the draft in Pittsburgh.

“We want to pursue hosting the draft in Pittsburgh,” Rooney said during the interview that aired during the six o’clock hour. “Have had some discussions about it. So it’s something that’s definitely on our radar screen that we’re going to try and pursue.”

Rooney didn’t elaborate on how far those discussions have done but it’s clear there’s been some conversation about it. For decades, from 1965 to 2014, the NFL Draft was held in New York City at various locations, most famously Radio City Music Hall for nearly a decade.

But starting in 2015, the league decided to open up the draft’s location. In 2015 and 2016, it was held in Chicago. Since, various cities like Dallas, Kansas City, and Cleveland have hosted them. Last season, it was held in Las Vegas. The next drafts are spoken for. This year’s will take place in Kansas City while the 2024 edition will occur in Detroit. Meaning, the earliest Pittsburgh could get it is 2025.

Once merely just a procedural part of the season, modern-day drafts are must-see TV. Expanded to primetime slots, the first round on Thursday night, rounds two and three on Friday night, it boasts big ratings and plenty of interest. Like most everything else about the sport, the NFL Draft is more popular than any other. The NBA comes closest but doesn’t garner as much league-wide interest, a more niche event perhaps in part due to the unfamiliarity of some prospects from overseas. As talented as Luka Dončić is, not many basketball fans knew who he was on draft night. Hockey and baseball drafts are far less popular. College hockey and baseball don’t have the interest that football and basketball do. Not to mention baseball’s drafts are far longer than any other sport (though the number of rounds have been reduced in recent years) while high school players litter the picks.

Not only would hosting a draft in Pittsburgh be good for the Steelers, but it would also be good for the economic health of the city, something Rooney agreed with Pompeani about.

“It would be great for the city.”

Hosting a draft would bring in tons of revenue from those outside the area attending. Though the NFL Draft takes place in April when the weather may not be ideal, the league hasn’t shown an issue about hosting drafts in colder climates like Chicago or Cleveland. There’s no good reason why Pittsburgh would be incapable of hosting a draft. Now, it’s about winning a bid to do so. Based on what Rooney says, odds are good the city will get its chance by the end of the decade.

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