Zach Berman has a great article on Philly.com today about the NFL’s planning and build-out of the draft setup. There’s not a whole lot here in terms of new information about how things will go – after being held in the green room in the Art Museum, picks will come down the steps after their names are called and roughly 3,000 lucky ticket holders will witness it in person – but this is the first I’ve seen details into how the league plans to incorporate the Franklin Institute into the whole process:
In Chicago, the NFL built “Selection Square” in an outdoor space for the 32 team officials who took the call from their team headquarters and handed in the card with the selection’s name on it. There was a heavy rainstorm during draft weekend last year, and the league wanted a more controlled environment for the team officials this year.
The question was where. They considered housing the executives in the Art Museum, but that space was used for prospects and other events. That’s when the idea came to use the Franklin Institute, down the Parkway on the other end of the NFL Draft Experience.
Each team will have a representative set up under Benjamin Franklin’s statue for the “nerve center” of the draft. They will bring their card to a front desk for verification, and it will then be phoned into Goodell at the Art Museum.
Larry Dubinski, the CEO of the Franklin Institute, called the inclusion of his building in the event “another opportunity to shine on a global scale, and that’s fantastic for both Philadelphia and the Franklin Institute.”
He said that the institute will be open as usual during the draft and that a free viewing gallery for the public will allow visitors to watch team executives as they select the draft picks in real time.
First of all, awesome. Second, I can’t imagine what could go with wrong with allowing fans a free viewing area of team representatives as they make their picks. Let’s see how that goes over when the Eagles zag and take a defensive end no one was talking about.
But I do love the possibility of dramatic music playing as reps walk to the front desk at the Institute to have their picks phoned in (again), and I’ll be highly disappointed if multiple cameras aren’t trained on the area for just that reason.
It looks like this:
The other takeaway from Berman’s piece is that the league and construction crews are doing this somewhat on the fly. Since it’s such a unique setup, they are tinkering and making decisions as they go, still trying to find space for more seats (and press credentials?) as they’re building it. There’s no mention of safety, but allow me to be the lone basket case to point out that a never-before-seen 3,000-seat theater constructed atop steep concrete steps could be subject to engineering missteps. I’m not implying that this thing won’t be rock solid, but I’m not sure I’d want to be in the mezzanine when a stiff wind came through. Indeed, a worker fell 30 feet yesterday and was taken to the hospital (he’s in stable condition).
Anyway, my neuroses aside, the setup looks and sounds great. You can read Zach’s full article here.