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2024 NFL Draft

Detroit Breaks NFL Draft Attendance Record. Could Pittsburgh Be Next?



2023 NFL Draft NFL commissioner Roger Goodell

The city of Detroit shattered the NFL Draft attendance record this past weekend with 775,000 people visiting the Motor City to take in the draft festivities. Nashville in 2019 previously held the NFL Draft attendance record at 600,000.

“We have shown the world what the Motor City is about,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said when announcing that Detroit surpassed Nashville for the draft attendance record.

On Thursday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Detroit also set the Day 1 record with more than 275,000 fans in attendance and drew 550,000 in two days before breaking the event record Saturday.

Detroit blew out Kansas City and Las Vegas’ attendance numbers from the last two years. Las Vegas had 300,000 in 2022 and Kansas City hosted 312,000 in 2023.

Since 2015, the NFL has traveled to other cities for the draft after having the event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for nine consecutive years. The draft was held in New York City every year from 1965-2014.

The NFL has not yet officially announced the winners of the bids to host the 2026 and 2027 NFL Draft, but signs continue to point to the Pittsburgh Steelers landing one.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on Friday.

“They’re in the mix,” Goodell told the show. “I’ll tell you that. So that may be coming soon.”

The Steelers did their diligence on hosting this weekend, sending vice president David Morehouse to view the facilities and setup the league helped Detroit put together for the festivities.

“There’s almost as much demand for the draft as there is for the Super Bowl,” Goodell said. “Because there’s so many cities [that] can’t host the Super Bowl but they can do the draft. It’s getting to the point where the draft, it’s not in the same league, but it’s pretty darn close.”

The Steelers officially submitted their bid to host the 2026 or 2027 NFL Draft in February.

“We’re deep in the process of trying to get the NFL Draft to Pittsburgh,” team president Art Rooney said. “I think we are optimistic we will bring it here in the not so distant future.”

The plans for where the draft will be held if Pittsburgh gets the bid have not been finalized, but a source told Steelers Now that Point State Park is being considered. Additional scouting will take place throughout the coming months to determine other potential locations. The NFL has constructed a temporary venue for hosting the draft in other cities, such as Chicago and Cleveland, where it was held along the lakefront in a similar property.

The 2025 NFL Draft will be held in Green Bay, Wisconsin and hosted by the Packers. Since 1936, 12 different cities have hosted the NFL Draft, including Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. Pittsburgh could be in line to have the longest drought between draft hosting duties. The Steel City last held the league’s annual selection meeting in 1948.

With Pittsburgh being a football loving city and the nationwide presence of Steelers Nation, the Steel City could give Detroit or (Green Bay pending on 2025) a run for its money and break the NFL Draft attendance record in 2026 or 2027.

The final decision on the host of the 2026 and 2027 NFL Draft is expected to be made at the next NFL’s owners meetings in May.

Alan Saunders contributed reporting for this story.