PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The NFL Draft is back in Philadelphia for the first time since December of 1960.
All fans are going to get a chance to enjoy a free fan experience ranging 25 football fields longs — the NFL’s largest free fan experience ever.
“On behalf of the NFL, we’re thrilled to be here in Philadelphia,” vice president of events for the NFL Peter O’Reilly said on Tuesday.
“The [Art] museum and the 3,000 person theatre that we’re building on the steps will really be the centerpiece, that’s where the picks will be announced from. At the other end of the Parkway, the other bookend of the experience, will be at the Franklin Institute. That’s where our team tables, what we call selection square will take place. And in between is the NFL Draft experience.”
The free fan festival will include interactive exhibits, immersive games, virtual reality experiences, player autograph sessions, and more for all ages.
“We’ll have a whole combine corner area, where you can try to run the 40-yard dash against NFL players,” O’Reilly said.
“It will be held outdoors, allowing attendees to take in the beautiful spring weather on the parkway,” Mayor Jim Kenney said of the draft festivities.
The activities include:
- Combine Corner – From racing against NFL players to running routes, fans can test their football and athletic skills at Combine Corner, which includes the Vertical Jump and 40-Yard Dash.
- NFL Virtual Reality – Experience NFL games using virtual reality technology.
- The Vince Lombardi Trophy – Fans will have the opportunity to take their photo with the Super Bowl trophy.
- AFC & NFC Locker Rooms – Visit a replica NFL locker room as it appears on gameday. Experience the sights of an NFL pregame with sleek translucent LCDs.
- NFL Museum (Pro Football Hall of Fame display area) – This exhibit features historical Eagles memorabilia, Super Bowl rings and Conference Championship trophies. Fans can get a digitalized Pro Football Hall of Fame bronze bust in their likeness.
- College Football Corner – Fans can view College Football Hall of Fame memorabilia from former first round Draft picks and Eagles legends, and cheer on Draft prospects from their favorite college team. Life size player mannequins offer unique photo opportunities.
- NFL Draft Experience Tailgate – Enjoy selections from some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants in a “taste of the town” tailgate.
- NFL Network Set – Watch NFL Network analysts break down the NFL Draft.
- ESPN Set – Check out SportsCenter LIVE from NFL Draft Experience.
- NFL Shop at Draft – Stop by for the largest assortment of NFL Draft merchandise, including customizable Nike Jerseys and the official 2017 NFL Draft Cap by New Era and other exclusive Draft caps.
- NFL Draft Set – Visit the official NFL Draft set from Thursday to Saturday and see the view from behind the podium.
The 2017 NFL Draft will be from Thursday, April 27th to Saturday, April 29th at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. Players will walk up the Art Museum “Rocky” steps once they are drafted.
- Thursday, April 27 – 7:00 PM ET (Round 1)
- Friday, April 28 – 6:00 PM ET (Rounds 2-3)
- Saturday, April 29 – 11:00 AM ET (Rounds 4-7)
Over the years, Eagles fans have been criticized for being unruly at times. Mayor Kenney, a lifelong Philadelphian, doesn’t care about the stereotype.
Related: 2017 NFL Draft Coverage
“We love our team and I don’t care what anybody and the rest of the country says about our fans,” said Kenney.
The Eagles were originally not going to have a first-round pick, but will now have the 14th or 15th pick (pending the outcome of a coin toss) thanks to the Sam Bradford-Vikings trade made on September 3rd, 2016.
“That will make exciting theatre here in Philadelphia on Thursday night, that pick at 14 or 15,” said former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, who gave credit to Eagles executive vice president of football operations for getting a 2017 first-round pick back.
“Eight million people are going to see our wonderful city,” Jaworski said. “The beautiful Art Museum and the way the parkway is going to be decorated. You will absolutely love it.”