PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - Sports history is about to be made again in Philadelphia, but this time it doesn’t involve an actual game or team -– just a sport.
Of course, it’s the 2017 NFL Draft, and we’re only a month away.
Planners have been working hard since the Sept. 1 announcement.
What was once considered a boring business meeting of football executives has become one of the biggest sports weekends and parties of the year – and more.
“It’s not the draft the way people knew it even three years ago,” Larry Needle, executive director of PHL Sports, the group that helped bring the draft to Philly, told Good Day Philadelphia on Monday. “It’s a tremendous new event.”
The fan festival will extend along the Ben Franklin Parkway like you’ve never seen it before – all the way to the Franklin Institute – and it’ll be free. Organizers say it represents "the largest festival footprint ever created by the NFL, spanning the size of nearly 25 football fields."
Of course, you won’t be alone. Organizers are expecting 200,000 fans for the three-day event, and 40 million viewers watching from around the country.
These are the details:
NFL Draft events will take place from Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 on the Ben Franklin Parkway, Eakins Oval and the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Organizers say to “Watch as lives are changed and the future unfolds” which is the NFL draft. Teams select college football players to be on their teams. The teams often trade the selection order up to the last moment, and then have to come to terms with the players they selected.
The draft itself will take place at night in front of a crowd who already registered for seats by lottery, but everybody in the area will be able to watch and listen to their favorite young athlete’s fate and their favorite team’s selections at an open-air theater at the base of the Art Museum steps.
As of this writing, the Eagles will have eight picks in the first seven rounds: In the first round, #14 overall. In the second round, #43 overall. In the third round, #74 overall. The birds get two picks in the fourth round: #108 overall was theirs, but they acquired #139 in a trade with Cleveland. In the fifth round, #155 overall. In the sixth round, #196 overall. In the seventh round, #232 overall. But remember, this is subject to change.
The big event may be something other than the draft, which will be great for families and non-fans who don’t keep up with college football or know each NFL team’s needs.
It’s called the NFL Draft Experience and it’s free. No tickets are required. However, fans are encouraged to click here and register on the event website for information and to be able to take part in all activities, since a “Fan Pass” gets you more, up close and personal. The NFL also has a Draft Experience site with details on the activities.
Some of the activities are interactive exhibits, immersive games, and virtual reality experiences, free player autograph sessions and more. Needle, on Good Day Philadelphia, suggested running, kicking a field goal, and seeing what an NFL locker room looks like.
The three-day football festival will be held along a half-mile stretch of the Ben Franklin Parkway.
Hours will be Thursday and Friday, noon to 11pm; and Saturday, 10am to 6pm.
Looking for something else to do? Event organizers are asking for volunteers to help make this historic occasion memorable for all. Click here for details, including requirements.
Also, the Penn Relays will be going on down the street. Just take the Schuylkill Trail. Most of the Parkway’s cultural institutions will be open as normal and some will even extend their hours. Look for names, addresses, phone numbers, and links with details below. There is also information for area residents and businesses below.
ROAD CLOSURES will start at midnight on Tuesday, April 25, for the Parkway and immediate vicinity – and they’ll stay in place until 5am on Monday, May 1. But there are many phases of partial road closures before and after. The mayor’s office says to expect delays if you’ll be in the area or use alternate routes. It also warns not to double-park which creates congestion, limits traffic flow and is illegal.
PHASE 1: Monday, April 10 at midnight to Sunday, May 7 before midnight.
--Spring Garden Street westbound will close at Pennsylvania Avenue.
--The westbound center roadway of Benjamin Franklin Parkway will maintain two lanes from 20th Street to Eakins Oval. The left lane of Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be closed from East Eakins Oval to Spring Garden St. and continue to southbound Kelly Drive, where it will open up to three travel lanes.
--The right two lanes of Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum steps will be closed for the building of the theatre.
--Southbound Kelly Drive will have a lane drop between 25th St. and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
PHASE 2: Wednesday, April 19 at midnight to Tuesday, May 2 before midnight.
--Inner lanes (inbound and outbound) of Benjamin Franklin Parkway closed from Eakins Oval to 20th Street.
PHASE 3: Monday, April 24 at 7pm to Monday, May 1 at 5am.
--Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be closed from 20th Street to the Art Museum.
--Martin Luther King Drive will remain open to 24th Street.
--Eastbound Spring Garden Street will remain open from 31st Street to 24th Street.
--Kelly Drive will be closed at Fairmount Avenue with traffic detoured onto Fairmount Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.
--Starting at 7pm on Monday, April 24 -- due to the closure of the outer lanes on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway -- traffic headed inbound (to Center City) from the Spring Garden Street Bridge or Martin Luther King Drive must exit Eakins Oval on the 24th Street ramp. Traffic headed inbound on Kelly Drive must exit at Fairmount Avenue. To get to the rear of the Art Museum on the north side, exit onto Fairmount Avenue, turn right on Pennsylvania Avenue and proceed southbound on 25th Street onto Anne d’Harnoncourt Drive.
PHASE 4 (Full Extent of Road Closures): Tuesday, April 25 at midnight to Monday, May 1 at 5am.
--21st Street closed from Winter Street to Spring Garden Street: Local access to Pennsylvania Avenue only (all traffic must turn left)
--22nd Street closed from Race Street to Spring Garden Street: Local access to Park Towne Place only (residents)
--23rd Street closed from Fairmount Avenue to Benjamin Franklin Parkway: Local access only
--24th Street closed from Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Park Towne Place: Local access only
--Martin Luther King Drive closed at Sweet Briar Drive: Road opened daily during peak AM rush hour (5-10am) on Thursday, April 27 and Friday, April 28 for access to the Vine Street Expressway (I-676) via 24th Street
--Kelly Drive closed from Benjamin Franklin Parkway to Fairmount Avenue
--Spring Garden Street Bridge closed at 31st Street: Road opened daily during peak AM rush hour (5-10am) on Thursday, April 27 and Friday, April 28 for access to the Vine Street Expressway (I-676) via 24th Street. Access to I-76 westbound will be maintained. Local access to the Art Museum will be maintained.
--Spring Garden Street closed from 22nd Street to Benjamin Franklin Parkway: Local access after peak AM rush hour.
--Pennsylvania Avenue closed from Hamilton Street to Fairmount Avenue: Local access after peak AM rush hour.
--Pennsylvania Avenue/Callowhill Street closed from 20th Street to 21st Street: Local access to Barnes Foundation driveway (westbound) only. Eastbound open from 21st Street.
--Park Towne Place closed from 22nd Street to 24th Street. Local access only (residents).
--I-676 westbound 22nd Street off-ramp closed
--These streets will be designated “local access only” west of 22nd Street: Wallace Street, Mt. Vernon Street, Green Street, Judson Street and Brandywine Street
--2400 Pennsylvania Avenue (south side angle parking only) from Wednesday, April 5 to Monday, May 8
--Pennsylvania Avenue between 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue (south side of street only)
--Winter Street between 20th and 22nd streets (both sides of street)
--20th Street between Vine and Callowhill streets (east side of street only)
--21st Street between Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Race Street (both sides of street)
--22nd Street between Winter and Spring Garden streets (both sides of street)
--Park Towne Place between 22nd and 24th Streets (both sides of street)
Bicycle Lane Detours: During venue construction, a number of bicycle lanes along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Eakins Oval and in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be detoured. Appropriate signs will be prominently displayed, and cyclists are asked to use marked detours.
Pedestrian Detours: During venue construction, a number of sidewalks and pathways along the Ben Franklin Parkway, Eakins Oval and in front of the Art Museum will be detoured. Appropriate signs will be prominently displayed, and pedestrians are asked to use marked detours and avoid walking in the street. The primary north-south pedestrian detours will be 22nd Street and Anne d’Harnoncourt Drive.
Public Transportation and Parking: SEPTA is a convenient, affordable way for fans to get to and from the event grounds. The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau has secured FREE parking at the sports stadium complex (all stadiums) for NFL Draft Experience attendees. From the sports stadium complex, take the Broad Street Subway north from Pattison Avenue. Fares can be purchased onsite, and fans are encouraged to purchase their return fare before departing. Find SEPTA on Twitter at @septa_social or call 215-580-7800. You can reach NJ Transit at 973-275-5555.
The PHLASH Downtown Loop will add service for Thursday, April 27 and operate its April weekend schedule Friday, April 28, through Sunday, April 30. PHLASH runs 10am-6pm and is an easy, inexpensive way to get around. PHLASH will re-route due to street closures during the NFL Draft Experience.
If you must drive into Center City, there are commercial off-street parking lots and garages near the Ben Franklin Parkway. It’s suggested you contact them in advance for rates and availability, or visit the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s website for a list of parking options.
THE BEN FRANKLIN PARKWAY AREA’S CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
Most of the Parkway’s cultural institutions will be open as normal and some will even extend their hours. Also, look for special discounts during the draft. Visitors and residents alike are encouraged to visit the websites for details.
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University: 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway, www.ansp.org, 215-299-1000.
The Barnes Foundation: 2025 Ben Franklin Parkway, www.barnesfoundation.org, 215-278-7200.
Eastern State Penitentiary: 2027 Fairmount Ave, www.easternstate.org, 215-236-3300.
The Franklin Institute: 222 North 20th Street, www.fi.edu, 215-448-1200
Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central: 1901 Vine St., www.freelibrary.org, 215-686-5322
Moore College of Art And Design: 20th Street and the Parkway, www.moore.edu, Art Shop 215-965-8586, Galleries 215-965-4027
Philadelphia Museum of Art: www.philamuseum.org, 215-763-8100, Main Building at 26th Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway, Perelman Building at Fairmount and Pennsylvania avenues. During the NFL Draft Experience, the west entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be open and visitors may obtain access via pathways north and south of this entrance. Anne d’Harnoncourt Drive will be open at 25th Street, with access to the museum’s parking garage for museum visitors throughout the week. The south entrance to Anne d’Harnoncourt Drive will remain accessible via the Spring Garden Street Bridge for museum visitors only. Signs will be prominently displayed with directions.
Rodin Museum: 22nd Street and Ben Franklin Parkway, www.rodinmuseum.org, 215-763-8100.
FOR AREA RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES THAT WILL BE IMPACTED
The city released guidance for area residents in town and businesses that will be operating during the 2017 NFL Draft Experience.
"There's no reason to expect the inconvenience for businesses around the Parkway to be anything like what was experienced during the Pope's visit," said Karen Lockhart Fegely, Deputy Commerce Director for Neighborhood Business Services. "Businesses can stay open and we hope some will benefit from this free, family-friendly event which is expected to bring 200,000 visitors to our City over three days."
City services for businesses and residents in the Art Museum area -- such as trash pick-up -- will not be impacted, but traffic delays can be expected from road closures.
Customers, employees and deliveries WILL be able to access businesses and parking lots located in areas designated as “Local Access” at all times. During event days, people may be asked by police on duty to provide identification, but it will not be required for entry.
Businesses with questions or issues impacting their operations during the NFL Draft are encouraged to call the Department of Commerce’s Business Services Hotline at 215-683-2100 (or click here to email). The phone line will be operational for extended hours: Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29, from 9am to 11pm; and Saturday, April 30 from 10am to 6pm.
The city stresses, vending inside the Draft Experience is strictly prohibited and only currently-licensed Center City vendors may vend within the Center City special vending district. Click here for information about getting proper licenses for vending in areas not otherwise prohibited, and click here for a map of special vending districts and prohibited areas other than the Draft Experience site.
Also, to share ongoing promotions and reach both locals and out-of-town guests, businesses are encouraged to post on social media using the hashtag #DraftDeals. Click here for information on special deals and attraction information. Click here for additional information about the NFL Draft Experience, city-wide happenings and deals.
DEVELOPING NEWS: Stay with FOX 29 News and Fox29.com for updates and changes as we get more information, closer to the NFL Draft.