The 80th NFL Draft will be held April 30-May 2, 2015 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELLand Chicago*Mayor RAHM EMANUEL *announced in October 2014.
"We are excited to have fans from throughout the midwest experience the NFL Draft," said Goodell. "We look forward to returning the event to the city of Chicago and working with the city, Choose Chicago, and the Chicago Sports Commission to create a week-long celebration of football for our fans. Mayor Emanuel and the city of Chicago presented us with numerous ways to enhance the Draft experience for our fans and incoming players."
The NFL Draft was held in Chicago in 1938, 1942-44, 1951, and 1962-64.
"Chicago is pleased to welcome the 2015 NFL Draft to America's heartland," said Mayor Emanuel. "Next year, NFL fans from across the country will travel here or tune in as the future of their team is decided in Chicago. We look forward to working with the Chicago Bears, the NFL, and our neighborhood partners to make this an event that highlights our world class city and reinvests in our communities."
The Draft will return to primetime for Rounds 1-3. Round 1 will take place on Thursday, April 30 while Rounds 2-3 will be held on Friday, May 1. The Draft will conclude on Saturday, May 2 with Rounds 4-7.
Round 1 festivities will include incoming prospects walking the red carpet on Michigan Avenue, while 32 former players who are members of the NFL Legends community, one representing each team, will be on hand for Round 2 to announce selections. In addition to the event inside Auditorium Theatre, the Draft will expand outside to Grant Park and Congress Plaza. There will be an outdoor fan festival for all three days where fans of all teams can follow the Draft, enjoy interactive exhibits and autograph sessions with current and former players. Tickets will be free for all fans.
The 125-year-old Auditorium Theatre opened in 1889 and has hosted operas, concerts, musicals and ballets. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley gave speeches at the theatre, which has also hosted shows by performers such as Ray Charles, The Doors, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder. The theatre also hosted Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.
Coverage of the 2014 NFL Draft on NFL Network, ESPN & ESPN2 reached 45.7 million people across the three days, topping the previous record set in 2010 (45.4 million), according to The Nielsen Company. First-round coverage on ESPN and NFL Network drew a combined total viewership of 32.0 million viewers, making it the most-viewed Round 1 ever, according to Nielsen. Round 1 was the most-watched program on cable and the second most-watched program on television that Thursday night (*The Big Bang Theory, *CBS).