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Report: Pittsburgh on Shortlist for 2026 NFL Draft



Pittsburgh Steelers

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.

Could be Pittsburgh be next? Green Bay, Wisconsin and the Packers will host draft in 2025, but the Steelers officially submitted their bid to host the 2026 or 2027 NFL Draft in February, and it sounds like they’re in the running for 2026.

Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s vice president for league events, revealed to Andrew Stockey of WTAE that Pittsburgh is on the shortlist for 2026.

“There are more than 20 clubs, cities who are interested in hosting the draft,” he said. “That’s been winnowed down, and Pittsburgh is part of a small subset,” O’Reilly said.

Stockey said the full vision of the draft plans for Pittsburgh is still a secret, but it will not be inside Acrisure Stadium. The main stage would be elsewhere but within walking distance, and several city venues would host activities both before and during draft weekend.

NFL officials have been here in recent weeks trying to see if the local vision translates for this national event.

“We are part of that work. We’ve taken multiple trips to Pittsburgh, and our partners at the Steelers and otherwise have come to previous draft events and seen what we do there. Because you can see it on TV, but until you actually experience it, you don’t really know,” O’Reilly said.

If rewarded the NFL Draft in 2026 or 2027, Steelers president Art Rooney II thinks it will be an historic event for the city.

“A lot of people, number one,” Rooney said. “I think it’d probably be the biggest visitor event in the history of the city.”

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 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.