The AT&T Stadium in Arlington will play host to the 2018 NFL draft.
The event is set to bring tens of millions of dollars, not just to Arlington, but all over the metroplex. It’s a big job, and city officials say they're ready to handle it.
Business owners are very happy that many people in the area over three days will mean chubby cash registers. But while Arlington is known as the largest city in the country without public transportation, city leaders say they're already planning and point to other times it’s hosted a huge event.
When Randy Ford, owner of J. Gilligan's in Downtown Arlington, heard the NFL will hold the draft there this coming April, he remembered how fantastic business was during the Super Bowl six years ago.
“The economic impact of just Little J Gilligan's Bar & Grill alone could be easily four or five times as much as we see in a normal week,” he said.
It’s the same for Tailgate Tavern, located just right across from the stadium. The owner says he got calls minutes after the announcement asking to reserve space for Draft weekend. Hotels in Arlington are also already getting calls.
"It's going to be a big deal and big money for everybody,” Ford said.
The NFL Draft will be held at the AT&T Stadium on April 26-28. It will be the first time the event has been held inside a stadium.
Charlotte Jones Anderson made the announcement at a news conference.
“We'd like to thank all those who worked hard on this and, most importantly, the NFL for giving Dallas, Arlington and AT&T Stadium the opportunity to host the draft."
This year's draft in Philadelphia brought more than 200,000 people over three days. he NFL estimates the economic impact will be around $95 million. And that's what put the push to bring it to Arlington in high gear.
"Our goal is to beat that, and we think we can,” said Ron Price with the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are in the middle of the country in the middle of the metroplex. I think we're in good shape. Not to mention that we have one of the finest sporting venues ever built."
But Arlington city leaders are already working on the issue of transportation solutions for that many people. Metro Arlington Express only lasted three years. And low ridership will cause the inner city bus system to stop running at the end of December.
A committee is working on future public transit ideas — like Milo, the autonomous shuttle bus pilot program introduced this summer.
“That's something that will be worked with our partners over in Dallas, just like we did with the Super Bowl and the Final Four,” Price said. “Transportation options will be made available."
The NHL draft will also be in North Texas next year.