The only NFL event more heavily scrutinized than Absolutely Chicago Segway Tour’s annual fantasy draft is the actual NFL Draft, and it’s finally back in Chicago. Fifty-one years after it was last held in the windy city, this years draft will be unlike any before and will set the tone for all future NFL ceremonies. The league is raffling 3000 tickets for the indoor event at the Auditorium Theatre and hosting 16 football fields worth of outdoor activities!
Started in 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, the draft was nothing more than a backroom meeting, but when Chet Simmons, president of ESPN, asked NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle if he could televise the draft in 1980, football’s fanatic following began. It gave the fans a way to connect to the total process of their football squad. It created a sense of personal association where players became stars, coaches became kings, and even General Managers became household names.
Just ask a Bears fan what they think of recently fired GM Phil Emery, you’ll hear an opinionated diatribe impossible in before ESPN (celebrating it’s 25th year) started filming the draft. The NFL would like to see that excitement translate into opportunity, and that’s where Chicago came in. Boasting a record of $48 million in tourism revenue last year, Mayor Emanuel flew to New York to convince current NFL commissioner Roger Goddell that Chicago is “the capitol of America’s heartland.” Using the kind of gusto that earned us the ‘windy city’ moniker in the run up to the 1893 World’s Fair, in his own words, the mayor, “made him an offer that he couldn’t refuse.” And we got it!
Starting April 30 at 4pm at Congress Plaza, from Buckingham Fountain to the Auditorium theatre, Draft Town will celebrate everything NFL. Draft Town includes an indoor sky diving simulator called the Sweetness Simulator, an outdoor sports bar called Draft Tavern, a 40-yard LED screen where fans can watch themselves get blown away in a 40-yard foot race with NFL players, and much more. Buckingham Fountain will get in on the act surrounded by NFC and AFC row with Team House’s for each NFL squad, and here’s the kicker—the fountain will light up in the color of the team that is on the clock!
Of course Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours will be joining in on the excitement of the NFL Draft experience with tours gliding through Grant Park and around Draft Town’s epic weekend.