NFL tries to work its marketing magic with the draft

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Maybe the NFL really is going to turn this car around, Mister.

Even if, as it now appears, the NFL has decided to abandon Radio City Music Hall and New York City for the 2015 draft, it’s impossible to rule out a change of heart if the powers-that-be at Radio City or another venue in Manhattan decide to give the NFL what it wants financially for the privilege of hosting a sporting event that involves not a single element of actual sport.

It seemed obvious when the NFL announced on Thursday, first through its in-house media machine and then through a P.R. rep, that Radio City has lost the gig, and that the league is “focusing” on New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. When NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy added that other cities are in the mix, the message was as clear as it can be.

If you pay us, it will come.

Or, for some cities that truly aren’t viable options, if you offer to pay us, we’ll use that to leverage more out of one of the cities where we would actually stage the draft.

These “leaks” and announcements are coming at a time when a committee has convened to determine the future of the draft. Formed just a few weeks ago, the committee doesn’t seem to be identifying options as much as it is trying to generate interest by creating a Super Bowl-style auction for the right to grossly overpay for something that someone else wants.

It’s an appeal to one of the most basic human emotions. We want what we can’t have, and we want it even more when we think someone else is going to get it. After decades of opting for the convenience and simplicity of holding the draft a few blocks from the league office, the NFL has decided to apply the same mindset that has helped the owners capitalize in many other settings to the most significant product of the sport that involves not a single element of sport.

Actually, the sport in this context comes from what the NFL is doing, pitting city against city for the right to buy a monorail before the monorail gets sold to another city that will be the city to get the attention and fame and prestige that comes from having a bunch of young men in expensive suits hug a man sliding into the mossy pond between being old enough to be their father and old enough to be their grandfather.

After Friday’s “news,” the league has leaked to ESPN that the candidates include Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Boston — and that the league wants proposals by the middle of the month.

In other words, act now or lose the opportunity to cut a money-losing deal that will bring to town a piece of the biggest sport in the country, even if the event involves not a single element of sport.

UPDATE 2:11 p.m. ET:  The NFL advises PFT that Radio City is indeed out, explaining that management of the venue has informed the league that there is no availability next April or May.

35 responses to “NFL tries to work its marketing magic with the draft

  1. Should go to cities that won’t ever get Super Bowls. Seattle would be a good choice. They’re the defending champs and Paul Allen would put on a good show.

    Or, just have it Vegas every year…

  2. Those cities will come to their senses once they realize that hosting the draft also involves hosting Jets fans.

  3. The NFL draft gets bigger/better ratings than any other sports draft and also big playoff games in the NBA and NHL.

    They don’t have to market much for it based on recent history.

  4. Why should they have the draft in LA? Oh, I see, let’s have it in a city that has lost 3 NFL franchises, and currently doesn’t have a team…makes sense….to the NFL apparently.

  5. Any politician in any of these cities that try to get this dog and pony show should be recalled IMMEDIATELY! Get your petitions ready. Throw the bums out! Every city in America is in financial straits and certainly doesn’t need the all powerful NFL to entice them to bid on this boondoggle.

  6. As someone who has had to put together one of those huge cardboard draft sheets and print stickers for all the players, I would certainly not want to have to travel too far away for the draft. Plus what about all those helmet phones??

  7. They should just rotate it from nfl city to nfl city like other sports do to semi reward the fans who want to go and otherwise wouldn’t be able to but wait it’s the nfl it’s all about getting the most money possible no matter what. Someday and probably not anytime soon but someday the gravy train is going to end.

  8. I have never attended the draft but if it were held close to me, I probably would.

    Definitely against 4 days but am all for it moving around. I always understood why they kept it in NYC for so long but I think it’s time to let other cities have the event some as well. I want to see it back in NYC at some point but let’s move it around for a while and maybe return back to NYC after several years of allowing others to host it.

  9. Although I agree to the stupidity of having a draft in LA. Where no one would attend past the first round, if that. LA didn’t lose 3 teams…..we let them go…..

    Heck, the Chargers were only here for one stinkin’ year and owned by the great great granddad of the great Paris Hilton. Come on!

    Georgia Frontierre. Come on. LA let her go get her wheelbarrow full of cash that she took to the grave and a crummy new stadium in St Louis that LA wouldn’t build.

    Al Davis. After screwing Irwindale for $10 million, there was no way any city in SoCal would commit to him. How’s that new stadium coming along in NoCal, by the way?

    LA is simply being brought up as leverage. No one here is even discussing the possibility of hosting the draft.

    Now, back to the sunshine.

  10. The NFL Draft might drive ratings, but it doesn’t create local business activity. There aren’t a ton of people interested in filling a sports arena to watch kids get drafted (especially days 2-3). The NFL draft makes for ok TV watching the new guys get picked when not much else is on, but paying money to travel to see it is not very high on my list of things to spend my money on! Don’t buy the hype…

  11. Goodell is the mother of all snake oil salesman if there ever was one.

  12. Steeler’s proposal – Hold it in Pittsburgh and we’ll contiue to carry the league’s popularity on our backs.

  13. Marketing magic? LOL! Didn’t know the NFL possessed such a thing. Must be all in the mind of Roger Goodell along with his grandiose vision of conquering the sports market with NFL Europe, establishing a team in LA (despite failure twice in the past), expanded playoffs and an eighteen game season!

  14. It’s a bit crazy to me that people say the draft shouldn’t go to LA and that LA can’t support a football team because they lost teams in the past. It’s a huge market and if cities like Baltimore and St Louis can get new teams after losing their original ones, why can’t LA? I think a draft in LA would be pretty cool, though please don’t make it a 4 day affair!

  15. Canton makes the most sense for 2015:

    1) 1st Year of Rotating Draft is in the cradle of football where the NFL was invented, the Hall of Fame city

    2) The ascendant Browns have 2 first-rounders in 2015

    3) Can cross-promote HOF Game & Inductions a few months later as a true national destination event for fans of inductees

    4) Plenty of hotel and convention space within driving distance as well as Pro Football HOF, Rock & Roll HOF, Playhouse Square Theater District (2nd largest in USA next to Broadway), Indians & Cavaliers home games (hopefully), potential fan-fests or concerts could be held in multiple indoor and outdoor venues in Cleveland-Akron-Canton corridor

    5) Canton already knows how to host similar event since they host the HOF Game and Inductions every year, which include a parade, fan-fest and other events all weekend

    6) Location. Let’s face it: events like the Super Bowl are for corporate sponsors and front-running phonies to attend. Events like the Draft are for die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool football fans and you have millions of them within driving distance: Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Cincy and even Philly, Minnesota, Green Bay & NYC. You also have commuter flights on the cheaper end of the spectrum to and from NYC, DC, Philly, Boston, etc that are basically an hour. I’m telling you now, don’t be surprised if it outdrew the NYC draft.

    Could you imagine the tailgate party?

  16. Give it to the team that loses the SB. Sort of a nod to having a great season but not getting the trophy/parade/accolades.

  17. It should be Vegas. Vegas has gambling just like London. Goodell loves London.

  18. At least we don’t have to see those fat degenerate East Coast basement dwellers anymore… Vegas would be best and LA the worst because the place would be empty… (there’s so much to do in LA – the traffic sucks so bad nobody wants to go anywhere…) Everything is for sale in Roger’s world…

  19. Dallas- would be great.
    Houston– boring city, boring team, boring fans
    Nashville– yawn
    Pittsburgh– good fans without the total obnoxiousness of Jet fans
    Philadelphia–couldn’t take that much whining
    Boston– worst possible choice?

    How about Vegas??

  20. Vegas makes sense, it’s a big convention city and they already piss away money to bring in more bookings.

    Think about major corporations (nike) going in with a convention center to outbid another town. There are a number of ways to sell this and make it more of a money grab.

    I believe the Tampa area is also well equipped to handle a production on this scale FWIW.

    The draft site has to planned months in advance if not a year or two out ideally so rolling to a site based on draft position or record or what ever just doesn’t fly.

  21. The Draft is Doomed.

    The Rookie Salary Cap is the cause.

    Why should the top rookies enter the draft and be subject to a salary cap? They shouldn’t.

    They should skip the draft, and then hold an auction for their services, playing for the highest bidder, or for the team they choose.

    All that is needed is for the consensus #1 pick to skip the draft and jump straight to free agency, and the whole draft disappears.

  22. i just don’t see how it would make sense for any of these cities to pay the NFL a ridiculous amount of money to host the draft…what are the perks and are they worth the cost??

  23. Pretty sure the last thing any NFL GM or owner wants is the guy they just invested a first round pick and several million dollars on being in Vegas to celebrate it.

  24. Vegas would be amazing. The NBA and NHL playoffs are both going on with lots of games to gamble on. Even MLB and world soccer are happening.

    Talk about a great guys weekend….

  25. I wonder what RCMH has booked, that will be more publicity than the draft? Maybe they should have changed what else is scheduled there.
    Did they say the draft is 4 days? They may just need a day to set up, hopefully.

  26. Since the NFL has reserved it’s Superbowls for glossy, aesthetically pleasing, superficial cities, it’s Drafts should be located in cities where die hard fans reside. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Green Bay, Chicago, Kansas City and Buffalo should all be considered. The very first NFL Draft was hosted by Philadelphia in 1936 and would seem as a logical choice post NYC.

  27. It will be fun to read about the “inside” reasoning as to why the NFL decided to dump the nation’s most populous media center for the Draft.

    I suspect Goodell finally got fed up with those idiotic “fans’ in the audience yelling at inopportune times as he was trying to announce the next draft picks.

    Question: are ALL those noisemakers Jets fans, or just New Yawkers in general?

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