Nashville has been on a bit of a winning streak as a city over the past few years and it continued to shine under the bright lights of the NFL Draft this weekend. Not only did the entire event come off without a hitch, it did so while smashing the NFL’s previous record for attendance as an astounding 600,000 people participated in the festivities downtown over the three day event, more than doubling the turnout in Dallas last year.
The NFL has now updated the record attendance total for the #NFLDraft in Nashville to over 600,000 people. The previous record was 250K. You’re up, Vegas. @NC5— Steve Layman (@SteveLayman) April 28, 2019
The imagery of the draft stage with the neon lights and rooftop bars lining a seemingly endless crowd filling Broadway were breathtaking on TV and in person.
When 200K people sing #Journey #Nashville #Draft #2019 pic.twitter.com/qgMYuPEUh7— seth reneau (@sethr83) April 27, 2019
The event was flawlessly planned from start to finish. Despite the huge numbers of people flooding downtown, traffic was surprisingly manageable all three times that I ventured down there. Ride share areas were conveniently placed and not overrun. Free parking at Nissan Stadium was well organized and made it extremely easy for me to get in and out hassle free.
My personal experience was a little different each day. Thursday, I arrived around midday to set up for our live podcast event and parked at Nissan Stadium. I crossed the bridge to downtown and got a glimpse of the set up before the crowds started to arrive. Here is the view looking down Broadway from 5th Avenue around noon on Thursday.
I then walked up to Corner Pub Downtown, our gracious hosts for the podcast event, and began to get things set up.
We went live on the air around 2:00 and got a chance to talk with some awesome guests including Luke Worsham, Turron Davenport, Jayon Brown, Will Compton, Buck Reising, Travis Haney, and Jason Fitz. You can check it out below if you missed it (we talked about a wide range of topics so it’s not just speculation about what was going to happen in an event we now know the results to).
Live from Mevo Football & Other F Words is LIVE https://t.co/yCWjFxeudo— Football ...and other F words (@FWordsPod) April 25, 2019
We hung out at Corner Pub for the draft and took in the first round there, going back live on the pod when the Titans went on the clock and recorded our immediate reactions to the pick of Jeffery Simmons (that will be released as a podcast episode soon). The bar was filled with fans from all different teams so the reactions to each pick from those fan bases were pretty interesting (Bengals fans weren’t happy that Cincinnati passed on Dwayne Haskins). We packed up after the Titans pick and I got to hear the final pick of the first round announced as I was walking back over the pedestrian bridge to head home, followed by a great fireworks show.
The second day, I met up with some friends to go explore the NFL Draft Experience events around Nissan Stadium. We didn’t end up having time to participate in everything we wanted to do, but we got to see all of the Super Bowl rings for each winner. The Broncos Super Bowl 50 ring was my favorite (pictured below).
We also participated in the vertical jump and 40-yard dash events which were a lot of fun even if they reminded me how much less athletic I am now compared to 15 years ago.
Saturday I headed down to catch the very end of the final round and a couple concerts that followed. Again, the weather was perfect and we got to hang out at a couple bars, see Dierks Bentley perform, and then headed to the Jimmy Buffett concert at Bridgestone Arena.
Security was very much felt, but not restrictive throughout the time I was there and it was easy to move from event to event without waiting in a ton of lines. In short, it was just a very well run event.
Beyond my own experience, it seems the Nashville draft was well-received by national media and others who attended. Rich Eisen suggested on NFL Network that Nashville should be put in a rotation to regularly host the draft every few years and virtually everyone who participated had flattering things to say about the city.
.@richeisen “It’s just been such a fun week. I would be stunned if Nashville isn’t put in a rotation as this travels around the country...the same way certain cities get a Super Bowl rotation, Nashville has to be in a draft rotation.” https://t.co/ittW365WGq— Mickey Ryan (@MickeyRyan1045) April 27, 2019
No seriously... Nashville is incredible!!! I see why so many people are moving there. Who for a spare room for me next time?— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) April 27, 2019
Who won the #NFLDraft? The city of Nashville! Amazing crowd, tremendous enthusiasm, fantastic energy. I'm in DC covering the Redskins draft, and after seeing what Nashville did, everyone here wants to go there. Even jaded broadcasters are impressed. #MusicCity rocked the NFL!— Trevor Matich (@TMatich) April 27, 2019
Congrats #Nashville you just became the NFL Draft Gold standard for hosting! Incredible job. Great optics too! #NFLDraft— Sean Salisbury (@SeanUnfiltered) April 28, 2019
The idea of Nashville hosting the NFL Draft once sounded ridiculous. Now it’s ideal...and hopefully a continued sign of what’s to come for this event https://t.co/pBjSDeIKBA— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) April 23, 2019
I kinda don’t want to leave... Nashville was incredible. #NFLDraft2019 pic.twitter.com/fKdm18qt3J— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 27, 2019
I will be interested to hear the numbers when they figure the estimated financial impact to the city, but I would imagine that number will exceed expectations as well. Beyond that immediate return, the success of this event will have ripple effects through the future of both the city and the Titans franchise.
For the city, the next big prize is a 2026 World Cup hosting bid. Nashville is one of seventeen U.S. cities that are finalists for ten spots as hosts to World Cup games. Nissan Stadium would be the host venue and you can bet that the selection committee was keeping a close eye on how the city handled this event for the NFL. I would suspect they came away impressed.
For the Titans, the draft was a great chance to make their presence felt among the national media and NFL fans across the country as well as continuing to build a bond with their own local fan base. I feel like they capitalized on that opportunity in a big way. If they can convince the NFL to make this a regular stop for the draft, as Rich Eisen suggested, that would be a major win for both the team and the city. I think a Super Bowl is still more of a long range goal for right now, mostly due to limitations with the stadium itself, but that possibility seems more realistic after this weekend.
Credit is due to Butch Spyridon — President of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation — who spearheaded Nashville’s bid to host the draft which started way back in 2011, before the draft even left its long time home in New York City. The story of the bid and how this all came to pass is great and Spyridon talked about it at length on this episode of the Official Titans Podcast with Mike Keith and Amie Wells. We should also thank Amy Adams-Strunk who continues to shine as the controlling owner of the Titans. She was instrumental in getting this event to Nashville.
Congratulations to everyone who was a part of the 2019 NFL Draft, from Butch Spyridon and Amy Adams-Strunk to the local police men and women who helped keep things organized and safe to the local bars and restaurants who handled the massive crowds beautifully. You crushed it, Nashville.