So what did it cost the NFL to use Grant Park in Chicago for the 2015 draft? How about nothing?
According to Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Park District waived a $937,500 rental fee, along with the security deposit.
Hopkins explains that the Chicago Park District will give discounts to nonprofit and charitable organizations that are using Park District properties. The application for the use of Park District facilities doesn’t contemplate a full waiver. Likewise, the NFL didn’t request a not-for-profit discount when submitting the application.
(Sure, the league office was a non-profit organization when making arrangements for the 2015 draft, but the NFL is and always has been a for-profit operation.)
In response to the suggestion that the three-letter football league is getting the kind of treatment typically enjoyed by a currently-embattled four-letter fútbol federation, NFL points out that it spent “millions” on the draft, via the placement of tents and exhibits in and around a 900,000-square-foot area they called “Draft Town.”
“We also hosted free football clinics for more than 1,500 area schoolchildren in the park,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Tribune. “ESPN and NFL Network went live for the week of the draft from sets on site inside the theater and also out in the park. Our hotel needs alone in Chicago were 1,000 rooms for draft week.”
Those are fair points, similar to the arguments raised when a city does a bad financial deal to host a Super Bowl. But the reality remains that local governments will continue to do bad financial deals in order to do business with the NFL. As long as local governments will keep competing with each other to do those bad deals, the NFL will continue to get great deals for the Super Bowl, the draft, stadiums, or anything else the league wants.