NFL Draft 2017: Preparations in Philadelphia ramp up with record crowd expected
PHILADELPHIA — With the NFL Draft sitting about two weeks away, the open-air theater that will house the event on the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps is beginning to take shape.
Construction started over the weekend and continued Tuesday, as the city braces for a massive influx of spectators from April 27 to 29. Workers from Mountain Productions, a Wilkes-Barre based company, have erected a stage that sits atop the Art Museum’s “Rocky Steps,” while tents and other structures surround the museum.
Construction for NFL Draft 2017 in Philadelphia
NFL Spokesman Karmar Mumtaz wrote in an email that as of March 31, 168,000 fans signed up to attend the NFL Draft events that will take place on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. That marks more than a 200 percent uptick from the registration for last year’s festivities in Chicago over the same time period.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said at a pre-draft event in February the city expected more than 200,000 fans to flock to downtown Philadelphia over three days of the draft.
At the same event, Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior vice president of events, said the league anticipates the largest live audience in the history of the draft this year. Early returns back up that projection, and Mumtaz wrote that residents from all 50 states have applied to attend the draft festivities for the first time.
Kenney told the Philadelphia Inquirer this week that despite typical logistical issues, the draft’s set up was “going to be fine.”
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Mountain Productions also provided the main stage for the NFL Draft’s Selection Square in Chicago last year. Several dozen of the company’s workers were on site Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Landmark Event Staffing Services security guards and Philadelphia Police officers were watching over the construction site near the Art Museum on Tuesday, and the NFL will provide its own security team during the days of the draft.