Sunday, April 24, 2016

NFL Draft Town's back; hide the silver

Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel managed to persuade the NFL to bring the extravaganza that is the NFL Draft to Chicago.  With the NFL Draft comes Draft Town, an annual fanfest.  He gave the NFL all kinds of stuff they wanted like security and ease of access and in return, the NFL couldn't charge for admission to Draft Town.  They've only ever done this in NYC and they charged $25 for the privilege of attending.  The cost to those attending last year and this in Chicago is exactly zero.

As reported last year, I went.  It was about 42º, windy, and very, very sunny the day I went with a coworker.  Because of the way they set it up, the setting sun was blinding people 50% of the time.  There was very little swag -- I think we scored free yogurt and a pen -- and there wasn't that much to do if your very soul hadn't been tattooed with the spirit of the NFL which I figured out quickly was the case for me.

The City of Chicago has been busily closing streets and building Draft Town.  It takes less time to put together either the Taste of Chicago or Lollapalooza.  It reroutes bus lines and city traffic and even though it's open for just three days, it hangs around for three weeks.  It is a supreme clusterfuck.

So what does the City get out of it?  No, seriously, I want to know.  People come to Chicago to go to Draft Town so parking garages, hotels, restaurants, shops all benefit.  What does the City of Chicago get out of it?  We're famously broke.  Chicago gets no money from the State of Illinois due to the -- I am not lying -- lack of budget from July of 2015.  Governor Bruce Rauner, an ex-CEO who is used to getting his way, and the lawmakers, politicians who are used to compromise -- cannot agree on a budget so money is not to be had until they can agree.  We give all kinds of crap to the NFL; besides Draft Town, what benefit is there to the City of Chicago?

Hide the silver.  The NFL probably wants that, too.

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