Next year’s draft will be at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago from April 30 to May 2, commissioner Roger Goodell and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed.
„Chicago is pleased to welcome the 2015 NFL draft to America’s heartland,” Emanuel said in a statement. „Next year, NFL fans from across the country will travel here or tune in as the future of their team is decided in Chicago.”
The draft will be a week earlier than last year and a week later than normal.
Los Angeles was the other contender to replace New York City as the home of the draft, which became a necessary move due to Radio City Music Hall — the traditional venue — being unavailable.
The draft was held in Chicago in 1938, 1942-44, 1951, and 1962-64.
„We’re very excited for the city of Chicago, for the mayor, his staff, Don Welsh and everyone at the Choose Chicago committee,” Chicago Bears chairman George H. McCaskey told the team’s website.
„Congratulations to them on their hard work. This is going to be great for the NFL and it’s going to be great for the NFL’s greatest fans here in Chicago. It’s going to be a very fan-friendly event. We’re going to get people involved. It’s going to be exciting.”
Moving the draft out of New York, where it has been held for decades, was likely once the league began taking bids for the event.
The NFL soured on Radio City Music Hall after it was forced to move the draft back two weeks into May this year. But under Goodell, the league also has considered moving around the draft for a while.
„We are excited to have fans from throughout the Midwest experience the NFL draft,” Goodell said in the statement. „We look forward to returning the event to the city of Chicago and working with the city, Choose Chicago, and the Chicago Sports Commission to create a weeklong celebration of football for our fans.”
The Auditorium Theatre opened in 1889 and has hosted operas, concerts, musicals and ballets. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley gave speeches at the theatre.
„There’s been so much interest in the draft,” McCaskey said. „Just a couple years ago who would have thought that an event of this type would have the type of viewership that it has had? It has grown into a spectacle — probably the biggest event of the offseason — and we’re thrilled that we’re going to have it right here in Chicago.”