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Goodell Praises Chicago's Handling Of NFL Draft But Says Other Cities Want It, Too

CHICAGO (CBS) -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL Draft, ready to kick off here this week, may indeed return to Chicago one day.

Goodell conceded Chicago has shown the NFL what the event can be, two years running. But other cities want a crack at the event, which for years had been held in New York.

"What you've done in the last two years in redefining it has already spoken volumes. It's really now about, obviously, trying to satisfy the desire and demand of other communities that would love to do this, too," he tells WBBM's Craig Dellimore.

Denver and Los Angeles are among the contenders for the next draft, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says his city is the gold standard.

"Chicago's now created a benchmark," he said. "Every city will be measured against Chicago. We've proved a couple of things -- we're a sports town; two, we can throw a big party. And as I just told Roger, I whispered in his ear, every other city from now on will be NFL Village."

You want a "Town," the mayor says, you've got to come back to Chicago.

Chicago Gold Standard For NFL Draft

City officials have promised Draft Town, at Grant Park, will be bigger and better than last year.

Tens of thousands of fans were expected to pass through the entrance to Draft Town, at Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue, over the course of the three-day event.

Beginning Thursday, fans can visit Draft Town for the second straight year in Grant Park. Last year, 200,000 fans stopped by to find out who their teams would select in the draft. Those fans helped fill more than 30,000 hotel rooms and helped pump more than $80 million into the city's economy. This year, the league hopes to expand on those numbers.

"We have an expanded footprint out in the park, so we have more things happening out there. We've spread things out to accommodate more fans each day. So we're excited for all those things, as well as just having the draft in Chicago for a second year with all the things we learned from year one," said Eric Finkelstein, director of event operations for the NFL.

Among the new additions to Draft Town this year are a 120-foot-tall NFL-themed Ferris Wheel, an area related to the College Football Hall of Fame, an NFL virtual reality game and a Wilson football factory. It will also include the return of Combine Corner, where fans can race players along a 40-yard LED wall or test their vertical jump skills.

The festival also has been shifted further east of Michigan Avenue and closer to the lakefront, with several TV sets surrounding Buckingham Fountain for the draft's "Selection Square."

Draft Town is open from noon until 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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