When the NFL Draft descends upon downtown Nashville on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the result will be nothing short of organized mayhem. There are road closures, business closures and rerouted public transit.
NFL’s Director of Event Operations, Eric Finkelstein, says Nashville is used to a fair amount of closures. “Folks get it. Big events happen here all the time,” he said.
But this is next level, acknowledges Nashville Mayor David Briley.
“It’s obviously not something we’d want to do every weekend, or every month or even every year," he says. "But once in a while, for the city to shine, it balances out."
The onslaught of activities and people — estimated at more than 100,000 per day — will consume the riverfront and two other areas of downtown: Nissan Stadium and "Selection Square" in front of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Here is a quick and dirty guide of what to expect when football takes over Music City:
During this week, the Riverfront Station will be closed for Music City Star train service, with boarding activities relocated. That's because the giant draft stage was practically built on top of the station. Train riders will board from a temporary location under the pedestrian bridge. To access it, riders must take Demonbreun to cross over First Avenue South.
There are lots of bus detours, too. The full list is here.
So if you drive, where will you park? The NFL put out this guide to the event, which includes where to find free parking, ADA accessibility and the most convenient pick-up and drop-off locations for ridesharing.
Roads To Nowhere
Let’s be honest, this thing is nothing short of logistical nightmare for commuters. Road closures abound and will change depending the day or hour. There are too many details to list here — organizers have listed 12 different closure “phases” — but this is the gist of what’s closed:
- First, Second, Third and Fourth Avenues
- Demonbreun Street
- Commerce Street
- the westbound, right-turn lane of Korean Veterans Boulevard, turning onto First Avenue.
The NFL also has a quick digest of the closures on the east and west sides of the Cumberland River.
For walkers, runners, bikers, etc., the Cumberland River Greenway on 1st Ave between Church and Korean Veterans Boulevard will be closed, since that’s pretty much ground zero for the draft. See other sidewalk closures here.
Also, a temporary dog park will be erected on the south side of Demonbreun Street to replace one along the river that is being closed for the event. (Pooches gotta poop, draft or no draft.)
Work Downtown? Not This Week
According to the Nashville Business Journal, tourism chief Butch Spyridon said his office is encouraging downtown offices to allow employees to work from home if that’s an option.
Some companies, like Bank of America, SunTrust, Lyft and AT&T are allowing employees to work remotely.
Metro Nashville announced it will close government offices at 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. And the mayor advised everyone who isn’t essential in government operations to stay home.
He also asked that downtown-based companies either let people work from home or stagger their work hours.
What Else Might Disrupt Your Plans
The Tennessean reported a list of which honky tonks will be closed during the draft — turns out a lot will be reserved for private parties — and which are still open to the public. Check it out here.
The Nashville Scene also reports river kayak and canoe tours are already barred from using the river around downtown, and that a kerfuffle ensued over weeks of lost revenue during the busy season.
The main branch of the Nashville Public Library will close at 1 p.m. Thursday and stay closed until 2 p.m. Sunday. Branch libraries are closing at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday.
Oh, and don't forget: The Rock & Roll Nashville Marathon is also happening downtown on Saturday, along with a Jimmy Buffett concert (and a performance of Live From Here). Hooray!
Blake Farmer and Tony Gonzalez contributed to this report.