By Hannah Beery, video by Courtney Dillard
Grant Park should consider officially changing its name to Draft Town, based on the success of its second-day events and positive feedback from fans. There was a shift in fan interest from the first to second day, as Draft Town attractions were more popular Friday than the large television screens showing the draft in Selection Square.
“It seems like more people today than yesterday, and I think maybe yesterday more people were concerned about the draft and today more people are coming just to hangout and have fun,” said Oklahoma visitor Jared Pence.
Below, find our rundown on Draft Town events you should not miss before Saturday’s final draft day.
Must do: Sweetness Simulator
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Walter Payton?
The Sweetness Simulator is an outdoor wind tunnel where fans can imitate the late running back’s iconic touchdown dives. This is one of Draft Town’s most popular events, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried the high-flying activity out for himself this week.
“My favorite thing I’ve done here so far is the Sweetness Simulator. It’s an awesome experience,” said Chicago resident Jamal Williams. “You get to fly up and down flip around and everything. It’s so nice.”
If weightlessness, flying and fun are up your alley, this line is worth your wait.
Shouldn’t miss: Combine Corner
The crowd alone around each section of this attraction is reason enough to stop by, as it is one of the most crowded areas of Draft Town. The Combine Corner gives guests a chance to participate in the same tests that NFL draft prospects complete at the combine. The most popular of these were the 40-yard dash and field goal kick stations.
Seventeen year-old Danny Castelli tried out the combine activities. His favorite?
“For me it probably has to be the field goal challenge because I made it,” he said proudly.
For fans not wanting to wait in lines that could be up to one hour long, the long jump and vertical celebration jump areas had much shorter lines.
Worth the wait: Super Bowl ring display
Underneath the main tent that stretches over Congress Parkway are the less physical activities, including the popular Super Bowl Alley. On Friday, guests clustered around the Super Bowl ring display, waiting in line to see rings from every year they have been made.
“I think the Super Bowl rings are awesome. You get to see them up close and personal,” said Williams. “You probably wouldn’t see all of them together unless you were at a Hall of Fame event.”
Fans get up close and personal with magnifying glasses to see the rings. As it turns out, they look like rings.
Honorable mention: Team Tents
Fans on Friday gave this particular portion of Draft Town mixed reviews, so it earned our honorable mention spot. The row of tents line the west side of Grant Park. NFC team tents are on the north side, and AFC team tents are on the south.
“I just like the camaraderie you get to talk about strategy with other fans and the team and the colors are nice, so it’s just a real opportunity to be around other fans and share in the picks,” said Oklahoma visitor Jared Pence as he stood inside the Miami Dolphin tent waiting for his team’s second round pick.
Each team’s tent is equipped with chairs and displays in the team’s colors and a television to watch the selections.
This apparently did not impress all visitors.
“I wish the tents were more interactive,” said Williams. “I wish they had a lot more things going on when I went inside the tents. It was basically just a set up of the teams and just a locker full of the team members merchandise.”
Saturday concludes the three-day 2015 NFL Draft, as well as the Draft Town takeover of Grant Park. Gates will open at 10 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. At 8 p.m. Phillip Phillips will perform a free concert in the park.