Sunday, May 3, 2015

It came and traffic stopped

It took a week to get Draft Town in place and it proved to be every bit the clusterfuck that I'd imagined.  Entire bus routes were rerouted because of massive street closings.  Traffic was at a virtual standstill in many parts of downtown because of said rerouted buses, many more pedestrians, a glut of cars, a stronger police presence, the previously mentioned closed streets, and Draft Town itself.  Of course I had to go and check it out.

DRAFT TOWN:  Where the weak do not get autographs or anywhere near the Lombardi Trophy
Draft Town was free to get in.  A coworker was as curious as me, so we decided to go together.  There were things we wanted to see and just walk around and check it out.  We were there for 90 minutes which covered it all for us.  Almost everything was free:  Oikos was giving away yogurt,  Verizon was giving away $5 food vouchers (which we gave to a family), Bears players -- current and retired -- were at the autograph tent, with no charge for a signature.  There were massive crowds for the autograph tent.  There were massive crowds for the Bears tent.  There was a one-hour line to get next to the Lombardi Trophy (as everyone in the line wanted a picture with it).  There were running challenges, jumping challenges, and a place where you put on a special suit and helmet and then flew up into the air.  Lines, lines, lines for everything.  A line to get a wristband to get your picture taken and have your chosen current or former football player superimposed with you and a line to get the picture.  The main massive huge tent was set up east-to-west which was totally blinding as the sun came down.  I have good sunglasses and found it annoying and painful.  It also made photography difficult.  Now that I've been, I don't need to ever go again.

So I have suggestions for the NFL and the City of Chicago if Draft Town is coming here next year:

1.  Do not set up the main tent east-to-west.  Make it north-to-south so that people are not blinded.  The first two days it's held from 4pm to 10pm. What happens in Chicago from 4pm to about 7pm?  The sun starts going down, making photography and vision difficult.

2.  If you put a tent over a major thoroughfare, there will be median strips with which to contend.  Maybe put up your own signage in addition to the regular street signage already there.

3.  Put the team tents in the front to make them more easily accessible.  They didn't have as many crowds as the autograph tent, so it would help with general traffic flow.

4.  Put the autograph tent in the back.  There are always lines for autographs so take the crowds for that away from where people (1) enter, (2) get beer, (3) are trying to get positioned to watch the draft which is also in front.

5.  Have more free crap.  If they are going to participate, make sure they're giving away something to the attendees. Screwdrivers with a hotel logo, for example, would be much appreciated.  "Greetings from Draft Town" courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott Hotels, the chosen hotel of the NFL.  How much could that be?  It all comes from China anyway, so it can't be all that much for the hotel chain and the NFL to split.

6.  Don't make it so people's livelihoods are challenged because of it.  The American Rhythm Center, where I take tap classes, is across the street from Draft Town.  Because of the terribly screwed up traffic, they cancelled classes for three days.  ARC is only one of the places giving classes in that building so multiply it by several.  That's effed up.

7.  Find another location for Draft Town in a city that isn't this one.  Draft Town on the former grounds of the Michigan State Fair at Eight Mile Road and Woodward in Detroit might bring some needed dollars to that community, people could drive to get there, they don't need to charge for parking, and they could erect some temporary Draft Temple for the NFL general managers and owners that would be appropriately opulent for their draft duties.   I could totally get behind that.

But then, they don't ever ask me.

Because of Draft Town, people had to make a concerted effort to get to Buckingham Fountain.  I exited, let some tourists finish their thing plus took pictures of them with their cameras, and then I took a panorama with a smaller-than-usual crowd.  It was honestly the best thing I saw all night.

Panorama of Buckingham Fountain at about 6:30pm on April 30

Post-BF, I found my coworker had made friends with these two officers who smiled nicely for me


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