NASHVILLE – By all accounts, Nashville hit a home run when hosting the 2019 NFL Draft.
Now, the city wants another swing.
Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, said on Tuesday the city submitted an expression of interest to host the NFL Draft in 2024 or 2025.
"They have not opened up the bidding process for those years yet," Spyridon said. "But we have stayed in touch with the league, and we will continue to do so."
Spyridon said the NFL sent a form inquiring about interest to the Titans roughly 6-8 months ago, and the city and the team returned it to the league. Spyridon said the NFL has not provided any updates since, "and I am sure their focus is on: "Can we play football this fall?' And we are pulling for them in that regard."
The 2021 NFL Draft will be held in Cleveland, Ohio. Las Vegas will host the 2022 draft after this year's public event was canceled. The 2023 draft will be in Kansas City.
Spyridon said he's optimistic about the city of Nashville being chosen as a host once again in a window he sees running through 2026. Spyridon said he expects the league to let the host cities in future years know roughly 3-5 years in advance for planning purposes.
"I'd be more surprised if they don't give us a future date than I would be if we get one," Spyridon said. "I am very confident we'll get a future year in that window, because they still tell every city they (talk to about the draft): 'Call Nashville'. I've heard that from the other cities, and I've heard that from the league. So, I'm confident. And in my mind, five years is a really good window as far as repeating something big."
The 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville easily shattered records for attendance, as over 600,000 fans fill the streets of downtown Nashville for the three-day event. The NFL Draft was broadcast around the world in a record 115 countries, with a record 47.5 million in television viewership.
The NFL and the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp announced the 2019 NFL Draft generated a record $133 million in direct spending -- a 79 percent increase over the $74 million at the 2018 Dallas event. The economic impact was another record-breaker at $224 million, also a 79 percent increase over the $125 million in 2018.
"The NFL Draft in Nashville outperformed even our lofty expectations and set the bar for future NFL events," Peter O'Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President, Club Business and League Events for the NFL, said after the 2019 NFL Draft. "We are grateful to the Tennessee Titans, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp, the City of Nashville, the volunteers and the fans who made this unforgettable event the most-watched and most-attended Draft ever."
"The economic impact numbers … from the Nashville Draft were another clear indicator of the event's immense success," Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said at the time. "By any measure, it was the NFL's most successful draft in their history and I am so proud that our organization played a role in that achievement. This year's Draft will be remembered for years to come and will definitely lead to other events large and small for our city."
So, what could the city of Nashville do for an encore?
"That question gets asked," Spyridon said with a laugh. "But that's what we'll be thinking: How do we do it not just equally as good, but better? What are the bells and whistles we can put on this to make it different, and better? Because doing it the same doesn't feel right.
"I think the stage is likely in the same location, but the rest of it. … But it's no different than New Year's Eve and July 4th (celebrations). We have a pretty good blueprint, but we try and do something unique and different, so it doesn't get stale. That is the fun part it. If it was easy, I wouldn't want to do it again."
A look back at the record-setting 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn. (Photos: Donald Page, Richard Suter, AP)