What would hosting an NFL Draft in Pittsburgh look like?

PITTSBURGH — In just a matter of days, the City of Pittsburgh could find out if they’ll be hosting the 2026 or 2027 NFL Draft. Channel 11′s Jenna Harner has been talking with city officials over the last month to find out what a draft here in Pittsburgh would look like, from where the stage goes to where the events are, and the preparations the city is making already, even before it’s official.

“The visibility of downtown has to be very quite apparent,” said Jerad Bacher, the CEO of VisitPittsburgh.

“So the front of the stage where the viewers would be looking into at the front of the stage would be facing downtown. You could see the stage being located just on this side of Acrisure Stadium facing the downtown area.”

But it’s more than just the massive stage the prospects, potentially including the next future Steeler will walk out on. Downtown, Point State Park, the Central Business District, and the Strip District will all host extra events over the course of the weekend. The inclines, Station Square, and the rivers will also be used.

“The opportunities for us to invest in the existing infrastructure is strong, but we don’t need a large infrastructure investment beyond what’s already here,” said Bacher.

In order for a city to host a draft, the NFL has two primary requirements. Logistics, does the city and its surrounding areas have the space, the hotels, the capabilities to host the event? And community collaboration.

“When they’re looking at Pittsburgh, they’re talking about things on such a level of detail that we wouldn’t typically expect at this stage of the bid,” said Bacher. "

A lot of the detail that they’re asking about is usually further on after the bid is awarded.”

Part of what makes Pittsburgh so appealing to host the draft? Its location.

“We’re within a half-a-day drive of 11 NFL markets, as well as over 30 NCAA division one schools that also have football programs,” said Bacher.

And you’ve seen all the construction. The upgrades at the airport are also critical-- to prove the city can host an event of this magnitude. Add to that - Western Pennsylvania’s football history and storied tradition.

“Going back to, you know, the Unitas’ and Marino, Montana, said Rich Fitzgerald. “You know, some of the greats who have come through Western Pennsylvania and are now in the Hall of Fame and the Steelers themselves.”

Based on the economic analysis from some of the most recent drafts – officials expect hundreds of millions of dollars in direct spending during the weekend.

“We’re estimating there’ll be over 300 to 350,000 visitors that would come to Pittsburgh, putting an economic impact anywhere from 100 million to $150 million,” said Fitzgerald. “And that’s I think being actually somewhat conservative.”

With another 50 million viewers expected to watch – it’ll also attract tourism, and boost the Burgh’s brand.

“I’ve been twisting the arm of Commissioner Goodell of the NFL,” said Governor Josh Shapiro.

“I won’t get into our private conversations but suffice to say I’ve been pretty aggressive in making the case for Pittsburgh.”

A case the committee feels they’ll win

“We believe we deserve it,” said State Senator and Chair of the Sports and Exhibition Authority Wayne Fontana.

“And we believe we’re going to get it.”

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