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Gov. Josh Shapiro supporting Steelers’ bid to host future NFL draft in Pittsburgh


Kim Lyons, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
March 19, 2024

Gov. Josh Shapiro on Tuesday said he is supporting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bid to bring a future NFL draft to Pittsburgh, and has sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The governor, a Philadelphia Eagles fan, said in a statement that Pittsburgh is “the best choice in the country” to host the NFL’s annual event.

“As the birthplace of America – and as we prepare to celebrate our country’s 250th birthday in 2026 – the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be a central hub of economic activity over the next several years, and we would be honored for the NFL Draft to be a centerpiece of these celebrations,” Shapiro said.

In his letter to Goodell, Shapiro pointed to western Pennsylvania’s storied football history; the region has produced several notable players, including Johnny Unitas, Dan Marino, Mike Ditka (later an NFL coach), Joe Namath and Joe Montana, and notes the Steelers’ record six Super Bowls and 30 Hall of Fame players. “All those who visit the Steel City will have the opportunity to experience this tradition of excellence if the city has the privilege of hosting the NFL Draft,” Shapiro wrote.

From 1965 to 2014, the  NFL held its players’ draft — the league’s biggest offseason event — in New York City, but began moving it around to other cities again in 2015. Pittsburgh last hosted the draft in 1948 at the now-defunct Fort Pitt Hotel.

Philadelphia most recently hosted the draft in 2017, and saw an estimated $94.9 million in economic impact to the city, according to a study commissioned by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. That figure was well beyond the anticipated $80 million impact.

VisitPittsburgh, the tourism development organization for Allegheny County, has estimated that Pittsburgh would see an economic impact of between $120 million and $160 million if it hosted the 2026 or 2027 NFL draft, Shapiro added.

The Steelers submitted their official bid to host either the 2026 or 2027  draft last month. In November, the team said it would stage the event along Pittsburgh’s North Shore, near the Steelers’ Acrisure Stadium.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey voiced his support for the Steelers plan in a November commentary for TribLive. “Pittsburgh bleeds black and gold, and no city would show up like our city would,” Gainey wrote. “Bringing the Draft to Pittsburgh is a no-brainer for the NFL, and we could use it as a platform to showcase all the great things our city has to offer.”

Pennsylvania will play host to several large events in 2026 to highlight the 250th anniversary of the country’s founding, including the MLB All Star Game, the FIFA World Cup, NCAA March Madness and the PGA Championship.

A decision about the 2026 NFL draft is expected in May, when the NFL team owners hold their spring meeting.

“The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is excited and ready to work together to host this historic draft and show the country what Pennsylvania is all about,” Shapiro said.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.