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Pittsburgh has the infrastructure for 2026 NFL draft, officials say | WITF

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  • Julia Zenkevich/WESA

This is Acrisure Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.

 Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

This is Acrisure Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 28, 2023.

At a press event held Thursday at Acrisure Stadium, local officials confirmed that the region is indeed ready for some football.

Pittsburgh has the infrastructure, leaders said, to handle the massive influx of fans expected to arrive for the NFL draft event that Pittsburgh will host in 2026. Nearly 800,000 fans attended the last draft event in Detroit, and Pittsburgh is expected to see similar numbers.

“The NFL has spent a considerable amount of time here looking at the infrastructure, looking at the assets that we have on the ground already,” said Jerad Bachar, the president and CEO of tourism agency Visit Pittsburgh. “And they’re satisfied with everything that we have on offer, including the number of hotel rooms.”

The city has more than 6,000 hotel rooms downtown alone, he added.

Visit Pittsburgh estimates the three-day event could bring from $120 million to $165 million in economic benefits and tourism-related revenue to the region.

Gov. Josh Shapiro noted that the event is expected to be the largest to ever take place in Pittsburgh.

“This is going to be huge, not just for their football fans out there, not just for folks who love the Steelers, but for all Pittsburghers, for all Pennsylvanians,” he said. “We are going to see our restaurants packed, our bars overflowing, every single hotel room is going to be booked.”

Philadelphia hosted the 2017 draft, which saw 250,000 attendees — a record at the time. Shapiro said Pennsylvania will be the first state to host the event twice.

“No disrespect to Philly — I love Philly — but this is going to do even better in terms of numbers,” he said.

The event is typically held in April, and the Pittsburgh iteration is expected to utilize the city’s North Shore and Point State Park, though leaders said celebrations are likely to stretch throughout the county.

It could cost some money to prepare Pittsburgh for the spotlight, however. Detroit reportedly spent nearly $2 million to get itself ready for hosting the most recent NFL draft.

According to Shapiro, the Pittsburgh Steelers have not yet asked for public money. But he said the state is prepared to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.

“When we have folks go to Point State Park — should the NFL and the Steelers determine that that will be a venue they want to go — Point State Park will be in tip top shape,” he said. “The Commonwealth will make the investments we need to make there. We’re prepared to make this an awesome experience for everybody and to make the investments here necessary, within reason, to do that.”

The NFL typically receives support from big businesses, which local leaders say should help cover some of the cost.


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