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Hosting an NFL Draft would be a huge boost to the local Denver economy

Denver has been trying to land the draft for a while — if the city succeeds, it could result in a huge economic windfall.

2022 NFL Draft - Round 1 Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Having just missed out on being a host city for the 2026 World Cup, Denver now has its sights set on hosting another major sporting event: the NFL Draft.

The Broncos Wire covered a story in the Denver Business Journal last week stating that Denver will bid to host an upcoming NFL Draft. That caught my eye and I wondered how hosting a draft would impact the city, the Denver Broncos, and small businesses in the area.

From an economic impact standpoint, the NFL Draft is a huge injection of economic activity for the event. A lot of it depends on the location and venue as some cities fared much better than others. Taking the most recent data on this, we can see the wide range of dollars brought in to these cities for the draft event.

  • 2017: Philadelphia brought in $95 million
  • 2018: Dallas brought in $125 million
  • 2019: Nashville brought in $224 million
  • 2021: Cleveland brought in $42 million

Obviously the 2020 NFL Draft was all virtual due to the pandemic, but the economic boon to these cities was largely calculated by the number of people who came throughout the week. Nashville had nearly 600,000 people descend into the city during the draft festivities, while Cleveland had around 160,000 show up during the three-day event.

The lower economic impact reported for Cleveland was likely due to the reduced capacity over ongoing COVID-19 concerns. David Gilbert, president and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, noted that as one of the reasons for the drop in that number in 2021.

“Hosting the 2021 NFL Draft was a proud moment for our determined Cleveland community especially with it being one of the first major events to allow spectators in a safe manner since the pandemic began. Although the economic impact wasn’t comparable to previous host cities due to limited capacities, the event extended far beyond the dollars and showcased our city to the world.”

While we don’t have exact dollar estimates for Las Vegas yet, there were a reported 300,000 people who came to the city for the 2022 NFL Draft so we should expect a fairly healthy economic impact report for 2022 when it comes out.

As for Denver, the soonest the city can host an NFL Draft will be in 2025 as the NFL has already announced that Kansas City will be the league’s draft day destination in 2023 and Detroit in 2024.

For small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Denver area, the NFL Draft would bring a lot economic activity to the area. That would expand employment rolls for small businesses and tax revenue for the city well beyond what a normal weekend of economic activity would bring. However, there would be underlying costs to hosting the NFL Draft.

As Detroit began planning to host the 2024 draft, concerns over taxpayer spending required to prepare the city of the event have begun. Those costs also vary by city as Philadelphia only had to chip in about $500,000 of taxpayer funding for the event, while the state of Texas spent more than $2 million in Dallas to cover the internal costs of hosting it in 2018.

Those costs are likely unavoidable as events as large as the NFL Draft would require city services and resources that likely would come at cost to the taxpayer. However, the hope is that the overall economic impact would bring in more money to state and local coffers than spent on the event itself.

As a fan of the Broncos, I would love for the City of Denver to host the NFL Draft. It would bring a lot of excitement to the city and our fanbase. Plus, Denver would finally have a first round draft pick by then.


Would you want Denver to host the NFL Draft in 2025?

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