The NFL Draft is promising to be the largest sporting event ever held in Tennessee, with more than 100,000 people expected each day over its 3-day run April 25-27. Now some sense of the scale is becoming evident in downtown Nashville.
On the bank of the Cumberland River, crews have built a gigantic, three-story stage — taller than nearby honky tonks — along with a cavernous media center and player greenroom that stretches 460 feet along First Avenue.
The hive of preparation largely consumes the riverfront. And two additional areas — Nissan Stadium on the east bank and “Selection Square” in front of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center — are also being readied.
It’s all part of what organizers say will be the most publicly accessible NFL Draft to date, with free access and no tickets required.
“Broadway is essentially our theater,” said Eric Finkelstein, NFL senior director of event operations. “We’re really integrated into the city itself. It’s not just a building with walls. … It’s Broadway and all of the streets around it.”
For the NFL, it’s also the first time the player selection event has moved outdoors.
“The event is probably bigger than we anticipated. The production is more elaborate,” said Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation. “And the end result for the city, I think, will be a bigger payoff.”
Organizers say the staging is larger than ever seen in the state, although the NFL wouldn’t estimate its cost.
Potentially 40 million TV viewers are expected to view the draft, which will be covered by three TV networks and roughly 2,000 credentialed journalists.