Nashville's NFL Draft generated record economic windfall: Here's how much

The 2019 NFL Draft generated a financial windfall for its host city of Nashville, Tennessee, and shattered previous record revenues for the league’s premiere offseason event, local tourism officials said this week.

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The three-day event generated a record overall economic impact of $224 million for the city in terms of spending on lodging, local attractions, food, retail and transportation, the NFL and Nashville Convent ion & Visitors Corp. said in a joint release. That total marked a 79 percent increase over last year’s event in Dallas, which produced an estimated economic impact of $125 million.

The NFL Draft also drew a record $133 million in direct spending, up 79 percent compared to last year’s total of $74 million. The event produced $10.6 million in tax revenue for Davidson County in Tennessee.

“Nashville has become a worldwide travel destination and just hosted the biggest NFL Draft ever, with record highs in attendees and TV viewership,” Nashville Mayor David Briley said in a statement. “The economic impact of the event has set a record as well. I want to again thank everyone who came together to make the Draft such a safe and successful event.”

The NFL has expanded its draft from two-day television production to three-day fan festival in recent years, with a new city playing host each offseason. The league has already awarded hosting rights to the city of Las Vegas in 2020 and Cleveland in 2021, and officials said that about 20 cities are vying to host the draft in 2022.

Nashville officials said roughly 600,000 fans attended this year’s event, while 47.5 million watched on television. Financial impact estimates were calculated using the same methodology used to determine the results in Dallas last year.

Sports economists often question whether events such as the NFL Draft really deliver the financial impact touted by local tourism boards. Allen Sanderson, a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago’s Department of Economics, told FOX Business in 2017 that impact studies tend to vastly overstate their true worth.

“The NFL is not a 501(3)c charity.  If the draft were really worth $80 million to the city of Philadelphia, why would the NFL leave that money on the table?” Sanderson said.

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Still, reported financial impact figures for the NFL Draft have grown steadily since the league moved the event from New York City in 2015. FOX Business breaks down recent results below.

Nashville, 2019 NFL Draft

Economic impact: $224 million

Dallas, 2018 NFL Draft

Economic impact: $125 million

Philadelphia, 2017 NFL Draft

Economic impact: $94.9 million

Chicago, 2016 and 2015 NFL Drafts

Economic impact: $80 million each year