JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars and SMG, the company that operates the facilities in the sports complex, were among eight cities that pitched to host the NFL's annual draft in 2019 or 2020, and perhaps, beyond.
As part of the pitch, the Jaguars and SMG referred to the city as "Draftsonville" and called Daily's Place the capital.
"I do like our chances. I think we have a city that can mobilize unlike any other," said Chad Johnson, senior vice president of sales and service for the Jaguars and Bold Events, who was one of three representatives who made the presentation. "We have beautiful weather in the end of April. I know what we do here is we execute. Jaguars games are one of the top fan experiences in the country, and I feel real confident."
Johnson, along with Steve Ziff, the Jaguars vice president of marketing and digital media, and Bill McConnell, general manager of SMG Jacksonville, presented the city's case, which focused on the history of mobilizing volunteers for other big events, as well as the benefits of an already-existing space in which to hold the draft.
"We've already built the facility to host this," Johnson said. "We have the most integrated space of any city out there with Metropolitan Park, the Flex facility, Daily's Place and the stadium. The infrastructure is all here."
Johnson said he expects to begin to follow-up for next steps in the coming week.
The 2018 Draft will be held in Dallas.
In the Super Bowl Era, the draft was most commonly held in New York. The annual selection meeting found a home in the Big Apple every year from 1965-2014. Beginning in 2015, the NFL decided to take the draft on the road. In 2015 and 2016, Chicago hosted the Draft at Grant Park and in 2017, the draft returned to Philadelphia, the city that hosted the first draft in 1936. Other cities that have hosted the draft include Milwaukee in 1940, Los Angeles in 1956, Pittsburgh in 1948 and 1949, and Washington, D.C. in 1941.
Johnson said that he proposed Jacksonville as the permanent host site for the NFL Draft.
"At one time, the draft had a permanent home," Johnson said. "So why not dream big and think that the permanent home could be here in Jacksonville. We've learned that from (Jaguars owner Shad) Khan that when we dream it, we do it."