May 22, 2023 - Business

NFL leaders visit Charlotte for NFL Draft pitch

Photo: Andy Weber

On a sunny Thursday in early May, while plenty of sports fans were focused on golf in south Charlotte, local leaders were busy wooing a different kind of sporting event – the NFL Draft.

Driving the news: NFL leaders met with government and business representatives on May 4 to consider Charlotte as a potential site for the three-day event, which annually takes place the last weekend in April, as WSOC first reported. A Charlotte Sports Foundation spokesperson confirmed the visit to Axios.

  • “The city has been engaged in conversations with our partners about Charlotte hosting the NFL Draft,” the city of Charlotte said in a statement.

Why it matters: Charlotte is proving itself as a host city for major events, from the PGA Championship in 2017 to NBA All-Star game in 2019 to the Presidents Cup in 2022.

  • Charlotte will host the PGA Championship again in 2025.
  • The NFL draft would put Charlotte on the national stage, and could draw hundreds of thousands of people to the city.

Details: The early May meeting identified First Ward Park and Romare Bearden Park in Uptown, as well as American Legion Memorial Stadium in nearby Elizabeth, for draft events, WSOC reported. Uptown is envisioned as the hub for all the action.

  • Representatives from the county, city, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, Center City Partners, CRVA, Bank of America, CSF, the Panthers and Quail Hollow Club, along with architect Ron Smith, all met with league leaders.
  • “Mecklenburg County has participated in discussions surrounding the possibility of Charlotte-Mecklenburg hosting the NFL Draft in the future, and what role the county might play, if any,” the county manager’s office told Axios in a statement.

Flashback: Danny Morrison, Charlotte Sports Foundation executive director and former Panthers president, led a five-person team at this year’s NFL Draft to explore how to bring the draft to Charlotte, as the Athletic reported.

Of note: Detroit will host the 2024 draft and Green Bay will host the 2025 draft, making 2026 the earliest it would head to Charlotte.

Team owners vote, typically two years in advance, to select the host city.

By the numbers: More than 312,000 people attended the draft this year in Kansas City, per the NFL, with an estimated economic impact of $100 million, per Forbes.

The bottom line: Hosting events like the NFL Draft helps cement Charlotte as a major destination, filling hotels and restaurants and pouring money into other local businesses.

What they’re saying: “These events are important to our city, and we intend to continue to attract as well as execute world-class events,” the city statement read. “We look forward to continuing that work regarding the NFL Draft.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the location of the 2025 draft.


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