NFL_Logo_New2The National Football League will return to Chicago for the 2016 NFL Draft, scheduled for April 28–30. The 2015 NFL Draft was held in Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre, the first time the event was located outside of New York City in more than 50 years. More than 200,000 fans participated in the festivities, including Draft Town, a free, three-day outdoor interactive fan football festival in Grant Park.

The draft generated an estimated economic impact of $81.6 million, according to a Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University study commissioned by the Chicago Sports Commission. Half of the attendees were from outside Chicago and generated 31,000 hotel nights; another 5,600 hotel nights came from NFL staff, sponsors and media.

The 2016 draft is expected to include an expanded Draft Town and additional youth clinics and community programs. “We are excited to return to Chicago and look forward to creating an even better experience for our fans next year,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Based on the success of last year’s draft and our high expectations for the 2016 draft, Chicago continues to raise the bar.”

“Chicago is thrilled to welcome the 2016 NFL Draft back to America’s heartland,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Our world-class city will once again be transformed into Draft Town where NFL fans and players will gather as NFL teams make selections. As always, we look forward to working with the Chicago Bears, the NFL and our neighborhood partners in making this an event that puts our world-class city in the spotlight, while reinvesting in communities across the city.”

The NFL also announced that it plans to develop a selection process for determining the locations of future drafts. Chicago will be among the cities under consideration to host future drafts.