Taking Your Family to the NFL Draft
Pro football takes center stage in Philly from April 27-29.
As anyone who’s been at City Hall or near the Art Museum recently — or has attempted to drive in certain areas of the city — already knows, the NFL Draft is coming to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The annual NFL Selection Meeting, as it’s officially known, was traditionally held in New York, but the league began opening the bidding to other cities a couple of years ago. After two years in Chicago, the draft is in Philadelphia for three days, starting on April 27. It’s the first entirely outdoor NFL Draft in history.
Among other things, it will finally give Philadelphia a draft moment that doesn’t involve a bus full of fans jeering Donovan McNabb.
The draft, once the province of NFL wonks, is now an event unto itself, one that draws better TV ratings than some actual sporting events. The picks themselves will be made from a giant theater on the Art Museum steps, with the free “NFL Draft Experience” fan festival on the Parkway itself. The first round of the draft will take place Thursday night, the second and third rounds Friday night, and the fourth through seventh rounds on Saturday.
Thanks to some savvy trading, the Eagles will have draft picks in every round this year, including two in the fourth round. But that still leaves a lot of time to kill between draft picks.
The fan area will be open from noon — 11 pm on Thursday and Friday, and 10 am — 6 pm on Saturday. (Click here to see a full schedule of events.) If you register for a Fan Mobile Pass, you’ll be entered to win prizes and get other goodies, and you can get on a stanby list for tickets for the theater.
If you’re planning to take the kids, here are a few things to do in the fan area (click here to see a map):
Combine Corner. Before the draft, most players under consideration undergo drills at the NFL Combine. Here, fans will have a chance to try out their own skills. (Wonderlic test not included.)
Hail Mary: You’ll have a chance to try out everyone’s favorite football play — a really long pass for a touchdown.
NFL Play 60 Zone: The league has a special program to encourage kids to be active, and this is an extension of that. There will be plenty of physical activities for kids ages 6 to 17, including an obstacle course and a quarterback challenge.
Youth and Family Football Clinics: As part of the Play 60 Zone, kids can learn from USA Football coaches. The clinics run from 4 — 6 pm on Thursday and Friday, and noon — 3 pm, 3:30 — 5 pm, and 5:30 — 7 pm on Saturday. Families need to register; click here to do it.
Locker rooms: The event will also feature replica lockers, for both the AFC and NFC.
NFL Draft Tailgate: It wouldn’t be an NFL experience in Philly without food! This tailgate will feature offerings from some of the city’s best restaurants.
NFL Museum: This attraction will feature a wide variety of memorabilia on loan from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including lots of Eagles stuff. Attendees can even get their own Hall of Fame bust.
Autograph Stage: Meet and get the signature of some fan favorites, including Eagles Nelson Agholor on Friday night and Mychal Kendricks on Saturday.
The Vince Lombardi Trophy: At last, the trophy given to each year’s Super Bowl champion will arrive in Philly — if only for one weekend.
The event will also feature an on-site tavern, video games, a concert stage, and live broadcasts from the NFL Network crew. There’s a zip line, too, but we’re guessing the adults will have those slots all locked up.
There will be three entrances to the secured area: at 21st and 22nd streets and the Parkway, and at 22nd Street and Pennsylvania Drive. Standard security measures will be in place, and no outside food or drink is allowed, except for reusable water bottles. Parking will almost certainly be in short supply in the area, so consider taking SEPTA from your starting point or taking advantage of free parking at Citizens Bank Park and the Wells Fargo Center (you can take the Broad Street Line to City Hall from there).
Some of the Parkway area’s attractions are getting into the game, too. The Franklin Institute is hosting the “Selection Square” area, where the teams will have tables and make their selections. The museum is open 9:30 am — 5 pm all three days of the draft, and is offering anyone wearing NFL gear $2 off admission.
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is offering free general admission to the museum during the draft, and $8 Super Saver tickets for its special exhibits, including “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors.” Wear a jersey and get $1 off the Super Saver ticket. The museum will have a craft beer truck parked outside, too, and members get $1 off a cold one.
If you’re not interested in the draft, be prepared for some serious traffic snarls over the next few days. Click here to see a map of the road closures, many of which are already in place. The best solutions involve walking, public transportation, and patience.
Rendering courtesy of the National Football League.