[Editorial note: Promoted from the FanPosts. Great research here. Keep in mind BGN Radio plans to have a draft party in the city - stay tuned for more official details on that.] -- As soon as I heard the rumors the 2017 NFL Draft might be held in Philadelphia, I started researching everything about it. How can I get tickets? Where will they have it? What other related events will there be? So while we are still about a month away from when we should start to know the specific details, I do have many pieces of information to share that will hold you over until then, if you’re teeming with anticipation. (2/28/17 Update: The NFL held a press conference earlier today that confirmed some of the below. Mainly: the capacity of the main theater will be about the same as last year, so the ticket numbers available in the lottery below are likely to be pretty close to the same. Also, the "selection square" secondary area will be located at The Franklin Institute, which means Eakins Oval may provide a (far-away) view of the main stage, if you don't get tickets to the inside/covered part. Eagles info here; Philly tourism info here.)
How To Get Tickets
The NFL controls all tickets and access to the draft. Even though it is in Philadelphia, the host city gets the same access to tickets that the other 31 teams get, to use the way they normally would if the draft were in Chicago or New York again. I confirmed with the team that there’s no extra allotment for Eagles season ticket holders or special way for them to get tickets.
What that means is, if you want to attend the actual draft, you have five options:
Option #1: Lottery
Around mid-to-late March, the NFL will release the details on how to enter the draft lottery to win 2 tickets to the draft. Last year, the drawing was open for about 2 weeks and winners were notified about 3 weeks prior to the draft. You have to be 18 years-old to enter and it is one entry per person. Last year about 80,000 people entered and about 5,000 tickets were awarded (meaning 2,500 winners were selected.) That put your odds of winning at about 1 in 32, or 3.125%.
But, you need to keep in mind that the draft is 3 days and there are usually two different areas of the draft: the main stage/theater where the players walk up to see the commissioner, and another stage/square for viewing the draft on a big screen. Those 5,000 tickets from the lottery were spread out like this:
1,500 Day 1/Round 1 tickets to the main theater (750 winners)
500 Day 1/Round 1 tickets to the square/plaza area (250 winners)
1,500 Day 2/Rounds 2-3 tickets to the main theater (750 winners)
500 Day 2/Rounds 2-3 tickets to the square/plaza area (250 winners)
1,000 Day 3/Rounds 4-7 tickets to the square/plaza area only, as the late rounds did not take place in the main theater (500 winners)
So, if you were hoping to go to Round 1/Day 1 of the draft, your odds were 1 in 80, or 1.25%. And to be in the actual main theater you see on TV on Day 1, your odds plummeted to less than 1% (.9375%, or 1 in 107.) However, with the number of people entering usually limited to those fans willing to travel to the draft city on a few weeks’ notice and the fans in the immediate area, I think it’s safe to say there will be WAY more people entering this year’s lottery compared to when it was in Chicago.
The Philly fan base alone might be good for submitting 80-100K entries. Then you add the rest of the teams fans, especially the New York, Maryland, Pittsburgh and the disgustingly large amount of abhorrent Philly-area Dallas fans, and you’re closing in on Powerball odds. But, it’s not hopeless for us hometown fans, because of the next option.
Option #2: Standby
Winners from the draft lottery need to show up in person and present valid ID to claim their wristbands. Here would be a good time to also mention that the NFL is very strict about only the person that won can claim the wristbands in person. That makes it impossible to sell your two tickets if you win, but you theoretically could sell your second ticket if you bring that person along with you. So there will be a certain percent of winners that just don’t make it to the draft to claim their tickets.
Last year, you could sign-up for the standby list using the Fan Mobile Pass - NFL Draft app. The catch was that you had to be there and ready to claim your ticket, if you were selected. You got a text and had 20 minutes to get to the on-site ticket office. And, those tickets are mostly singles, so if you go with someone, you might get selected and they might not.
Option #3: Seat Filler
Just like Cosmo Kramer at the Tony Awards, you too could be lucky enough to get selected as a seat filler during the draft. And it’s just what you think it is. You get into the theater or square/plaza area but watch from the wings until a seat opens up. You then jump in that seat, keep it warm for the actual seat holder until they return, and then repeat. Or, you get directed to go fill in wherever there are empty seats for people that just didn't show up. There was also a third area last year, the red carpet. "Fillers" selected for this stood along the walk the players made to and from the main theater. The NFL wants everything to look good on TV, so these are all important cogs in the NFL image machine.
The NFL uses a service for this (1iota) that you can actually sign-up for at any time (they also use it for the Combine now that it is broadcast on the NFL network) to get notified about NFL opportunities.
One other note: last year you could only sign up for 1 of the 3 seat filler options, on each day of the draft. You could choose theater one day, square the next and red carpet the third day, but not all three on the same day.
Option #4: NFL On Location
The catch? The tickets are part of a travel package that includes hotel and other accommodations that bring the total cost into the thousands of dollars. It’s not a reasonable option for local fans looking to go to the draft. But the access, exclusive parties and other events could be worth paying the package price for someone that wants to absolutely be sure they will be there and have a VIP experience.
Option #5: NFL Extra Points Redemption
Through Barclaycard, the NFL has a Visa credit card for each team where you can earn points from your purchases to use on Eagles tickets and experiences, merchandise, NFL Films tours and even tickets to the Super Bowl. I have this card and will be covering it in a future post. Tickets were offered to all NFL Extra Points cardholders (regardless of the team card you have) for redemption for each of the 3 days of the draft starting in October of last year, shortly after it was officially announced to be in Philadelphia. 2 tickets for Day 1 were 20,000 points, which is the equivalent of $200 if you redeemed the points for cash back. Day 2 were 15,000 points ($150), and a pair of Day 3 tickets were 10,000 points ($100.) As of this posting, only Day 3 tickets remain available for redemption. Right now, if you sign up for the card, you get 10,000 bonus points (which would cover Day 3 tickets) after you spend $500. But there’s no way to know how much longer before the Day 3 tickets are gone (3/2/17 update: they are now gone.) So while it may not be a viable option this year, keep in mind Chicago had the draft for two consecutive years, so it could be something to keep in mind if you think the odds are good that the draft will be back here again in 2018.
I was fortunate enough to nab Day 1 tickets this way. In my prior research I knew that last year NFL Extra Points offered a VIP Draft Experience redemption in Chicago (it included 2 tickets for Day 1, a behind the scenes tour and a photo opportunity on the main stage), so I was checking often for something to go up for this year’s draft. While it’s not a VIP experience this time around (and as of now I still don’t know if the tickets are for the main theater or the plaza/square), I’m still very happy knowing I’m at least going at the very reasonable price of $100 per ticket. I also look forward to covering my draft experience in a future post.
What if you don’t get tickets?
Well, there will still be plenty of events going on that you can still participate in. "Draft Town" will be an all-day festival open to the public (think: MLB's FanFest for the All-Star game or the Super Bowl’s NFL Experience.) They’ll likely have things like obstacle courses and bounce houses for the kids, the Lombardi trophy to take pictures with, food vendors, player appearances and autographs, etc. In Chicago they even had a 10-story Ferris wheel. Here is the complete breakdown of the events and attractions at Draft Town in Chicago, last year.
Where will Draft Town be in Philly, as well as the exact location of the draft stage in the Art Museum area? Still speculation at this point, but my guess is that the main draft stage/theater area will be at/around the front of the Art Museum and the iconic steps (which Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice sort of verified recently in a tweet), the square/plaza secondary area might be in Eakins Oval (where the Sixers held their draft party last year), and the rest of Draft Town will be in and around the parkway.
What we also don’t know yet is if the Eagles will still have their Draft Party during the first round, which they have held at The Linc for the last 11 or so years. Except for 2013, when the stadium was undergoing renovations and they kept it smaller and exclusive, those parties have been pretty big events with thousands of fans attending. My hope is that they still do it, especially since the draft will be local and so many fans won’t be able to attend it in person. It’s even possible they turn the whole stadium complex into Draft Town, and incorporate The Linc’s draft party, if there’s not enough room around the Art Museum.
If this winds up being a one-and-done event in Philly because of some embarrassing event (battery-throwers, I’m looking at you), this could be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many fans. So I really hope the NFL and the Eagles come through to make it a memorable event with many different, accessible opportunities available for fans to take some part in the NFL Draft experience.