Pittsburgh selected to host 2026 NFL Draft

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh will host the 2026 NFL Draft.

The Steelers spokesperson Burt Lauten confirmed to Channel 11 that the city was awarded the 2026 NFL Draft.

The NFL then confirmed Pittsburgh as the 2026 host city in a press release.

“The NFL Draft is one of the biggest, most-anticipated sporting events of the year, and we’re thrilled to partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers and VisitPITTSBURGH for our 2026 event,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We have a unique opportunity to spotlight this wonderful community on a global stage, benefiting Pittsburgh’s economy and entertaining football fans from all markets. We know this pride of Pennsylvania will shine bright in 2026.”

The NFL decided where the draft would be held in 2026 during the Spring League Meeting in Nashville.

Ahead of this announcement, Channel 11 spoke with city officials to find out what the draft would look like, including where the stage and other activities would be. Their vision has Downtown as the central backdrop of the main stage that would be placed on the North Shore near Acrisure Stadium.

>>> Behind the scenes of Pittsburgh’s pitch for the NFL Draft

The full layout has not yet been revealed, but it’s expected to include Downtown, Point State Park, the Central Business District and the Strip District ancillary events, along with Acrisure Stadium and the North Shore.

The officials also think the weekend-long event that could bring upwards of 300,000 people to the city will be a major economic boost.

The process for Pittsburgh to secure rights to host the draft began years ago, with the Steelers having ongoing conversations with the NFL about bringing a “mega football event” to the city.

Back in November, the Steelers expressed their interest in hosting an upcoming draft.

>>> Steelers, City of Pittsburgh express interest to NFL in hosting future draft

“We believe our city will be an excellent host to showcase the great history that connects Western Pennsylvania to the early roots of professional football and the evolution of the game through the decades,” Steelers Director of Communications Burt Lauten said at the time.

Even at that point, NFL officials said Pittsburgh was attractive for several reasons.

“Obviously, the Rooney family, the Steelers organization, the passionate fan base throughout the NFL level, but also the collegiate level. Other fan bases could drive into the city. It’s easily accessible by planes, as well. Also, local government and community corporate support certainly is another big factor perceived by the league office as it looks at potential sites,” NFL spokesman Kevin McCarthy said.

Part of what makes Pittsburgh so appealing to the NFL as a host city is its location.

“We’re within a half a day drive of 11 NFL markets, as well as over 30 NCAA Division I schools that also have football programs,” VISITPittsburgh CEO Jerad Bacher said.

Then, in early 2024, Pittsburgh and the Steelers officially submitted their bid to host the 2026 or 2027 draft and approved the use of facilities if the bid were to be approved. In order to submit this bid, they had to get various levels of government and local businesses on board.

>>> Pittsburgh Steelers officially submit bid to host NFL Draft

In April, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey along with members of the host committee went to Detroit during the 2024 NFL Draft to see what it takes to host an event that turns a city into the epicenter of sports and entertainment for a weekend.

>>> Exclusive: Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey in Detroit for NFL Draft

“We’re really excited about the potential to host the draft here. The first game in pro football history was here. The first draft was here. It’s time to bring it back home to Pittsburgh,’ Maria Montano, the Mayor’s Communication Director, told Channel 11.

The team even had an important political ally in their corner in Gov. Josh Shapiro, who repeatedly expressed his support for Pittsburgh to host the draft. Back in March, he sent a letter to Goodell, highlighting the state’s expected economic activity in the coming years, historic connection to professional football, ties to NFL legends and cultural attractions throughout Pittsburgh.

>>> ‘Pittsburgh is the best choice’: Gov. Josh Shapiro supports Steelers bid to host NFL Draft

In a recent interview with Channel 11, Shapiro expressed just how hard he’s been trying to make a case for Pittsburgh.

“I’ve been twisting the arm of Commissioner Goodell of the NFL. I won’t get into our private conversations but suffice to say I’ve been pretty aggressive in making the case for Pittsburgh,” Shapiro said.

>>> What would hosting an NFL Draft in Pittsburgh look like?

The last time the city hosted an NFL Draft was in the ‘40s. The last time the draft was held in Pennsylvania was when the Philadelphia Eagles hosted it in 2017.

Green Bay and the Packers are hosting the 2025 NFL Draft.

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