This article has been updated to correct inaccurate quotes that were attributed to Ron Price, the president & CEO of Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Next spring, the players will not be the only ones earning money at the 2018 NFL Draft.
The city of Arlington is likely going to win big too.
According to an estimate by the Texas Association of Business, the three-day event could have an economic impact of more than $100 million.
Instead of scattering the activities across the Dallas-Fort Worth area (as they did with Super Bowl XLV) or using The Star in Frisco in some kind of way, Charlotte Jones Anderson, the Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer, pitched to the NFL to hold the draft and a majority of its festivities in and around AT&T Stadium.
“With the space around the stadium and with the passion that we knew existed among Cowboys fans and for the sport of football in Texas … we knew it was a destination that people would want to go to,” said Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior vice president of events. “In talking with the Cowboys, we all expect to have more people drive and fly in for this event than we’ve ever had before.”
So, just how many people will attend the draft in Arlington?
It’s hard to say right now.
At last year’s draft in Philadelphia, the city’s convention and visitors bureau estimated around 200,000 would attend. By the end of the weekend, that number hit 250,000. The city also topped its estimated $84 million impact study by $14 million.
Ron Price, who serves as the president & CEO of Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, declined a request for an interview and asked that questions be emailed.
Price wrote that the Arlington CVB had worked with the Cowboys for many months on hosting the NFL Draft. A goal of the organizers was to ultimately surpass the attendance figure from last year’s draft in Philadelphia, he said.
Arlington’s positioning in an area with an estimated population of 7.1 million, a strong NFL fan base and space around the stadium could very well make that goal a reality.
The 3-million-square-foot stadium has a capacity of up to 100,000 and two plazas, one in each end zone, along with three party decks in each end zone.
The NFL Draft Experience will be based in both plazas. The events are free.
“We’ve really wanted to make this event accessible and that has brought in so many more fans, especially in these new draft locations,” O’Reilly said. “In our minds, we see it becoming something that is potentially on par with the Super Bowl.”
Big events aren’t new to the city of Arlington. It has hosted Super Bowl XLV, the Final Four in 2014, CONCACAF soccer and even Wrestlemania.
Depending on the layout, there’s parking for more than 30,000 at the stadium lots, plus more parking options at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers, which is next to the stadium.
“Arlington has a hospitality community that is a step above,” Price wrote. “…We are well versed in how to host major events and visitors from all over the world.”