The Draft and the Loop: What you need to know

By Taylor Hall

The 2015 NFL Draft is scheduled to be held at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre with an adjacent fan festival, Draft Town presented by Oikos Triple Zero, expanding to Grant Park and Congress Plaza.

Within the Auditorium Theatre, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce player selections for each of the 32 NFL teams, introducing the players on stage (sans Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota). On Saturday, the NFL draft will be held entirely in Draft Town and Selection Square in Grant Park, and fans will have the opportunity to take photos onstage at the Auditorium Theatre.

What’s happening?

The NFL descends upon the city.

The NFL draft will be broadcast in its entirety on NFL Network and ESPN/ESPN2.

• Round 1: Thursday, April 30. Party starts at 5 p.m. Draft starts at 7 p.m.
• Round 2 & 3: Friday, May 1. Draft begins at 7 p.m.
• Rounds 4-7: Saturday, May 2. Draft begins at 11 a.m.

Are there other events going on?

You betcha.


There are dozens of activities going on in Grant Park during the draft. Yellow dots are activities open to anyone. Red dots require the Fan Mobile Pass for access. (Choose Chicago, Taylor Hall/Medill)

Choose Chicago, the tourism nonprofit organizing the event with the league, is hosting Draft Town — basically a giant party in Grant Park and Congress Plaza. Draft Town will feature live music, food, player appearances, interactive games and clinics, and more than 100 screens on which to view the 2015 NFL draft.

Draft Town hours:
• Thursday, April 30, 4-10 p.m.
• Friday, May 1, 4-10 p.m.
• Saturday, May 2, 10-7 p.m. Phillip Phillips is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Chicago’s own JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound and newcomer Marc Scibilia will open the show.

Can I go?

Yes … sort of.

Attendance to the actual draft selection inside Auditorium Theatre and Selection Square requires a ticket for which the NFL held a lottery in March. Luckily, no tickets are required for entry into Draft Town, but you do need to download a Fan Mobile Pass to gain access to some activities, which can be downloaded here.

Admission to Draft Town is free, but you’ll probably spend some cash at the Chi-Chef Kitchen, Draft Tavern and NFL shop.

What about accessibility for fans with special needs?

Draft Town will be ADA compliant, including handicapped seating and restrooms.

What roads will be closed?

Just the ones you like to drive on.


There’s a wide perimeter of closures surrounding the draft festivities. Don’t plan to drive anywhere near the event. (Taylor Hall/Medill)

The following roads will be closed the week of the NFL Draft:

• Wednesday, April 22 until Friday, May 8: Congress Parkway between Michigan and Columbus, including Congress Circle, beginning at 6 a.m.
• Monday April 27 until Monday, May 4: Columbus Drive between Balbo and Jackson, beginning at 6 a.m.
• Thursday, April 30: Michigan between Balbo and Jackson, 3-11 p.m.
• Wabash between Harrison and Jackson, 3-11 p.m.
• Van Buren between Michigan and State, 3-11 p.m.
• Congress between Michigan and State, 3-11 p.m.

Where can you park?

A lot of places, as long as it’s not close to the action.


Spot Hero has identified close to 30 parking options within a mile of the NFL Draft festivities. (Taylor Hall/Medill)

You can reserve parking in advance and locate other parking options by visiting SpotHero’s Draft Town Parking Page here.

Other than that, your best bet is probably the Millennium Garages near Grant Park, accessible at 325 S. Michigan Ave., 5 S. Columbus Drive and 25 N. Michigan Ave. Parking rates for these garages can be found here.

Watch out for temporary “No Parking Zones” posted along the Grant Park area. Towing of vehicles along these routes will be strictly enforced. Motorists can call 3-1-1 to locate a towed vehicle.

What will CTA be like?

Probably on time, courteous and smelling like roses (note the sarcasm)!

You can get to Grant Park on the “L” by taking the Brown, Orange, Pink and Purple (rush) Lines to the Harold Washington Library — State/Van Buren or Harrison stops.

You can also travel by bus on the #1, #3, #4, #6, #7, #126, #147.

The #2, #6, #29, #36, #62, #146 and #148 are rerouted due to road closures.

To stay current on bus alerts and reroutes, check this out.

What can you bring?

The better question might be, “What can’t you bring?”

For a full list of approved and prohibited items, check out the NFL’s Draft Town Security page. Here are some of the highlights:

Approved

• Baby strollers
• Backpacks
• Binoculars
• Blankets
• Non-professional cameras
• Umbrellas

Prohibited

• Drones
• Hammocks
• Illegal drugs
• Selfie Sticks
• Professional radio, video or camera equipment
• Skateboards, scooters, bicycles, wagons or any personal motorized vehicles
• Smoking is not allowed

If I’m not into crowds or the NFL Draft, should I avoid downtown altogether?

Probably a good idea.

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management says that those travelling near Grant Park should allow extra time, expect delays and consider alternative routes to avoid the NFL Draft.