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Pittsburgh already planning for 2026 NFL Draft

Pittsburgh ready to welcome 2026 NFL Draft
Pittsburgh ready to welcome 2026 NFL Draft 02:23

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The Steelers along with several elected leaders on Thursday addressed what to expect when the 2026 NFL Draft rolls into town. Even though there's still two years until the event, there's already plans in the works.

Many people want to know what this is going to look like, but not much has been finalized outside of the stage, which will probably be outside the stadium. But how assets like Downtown and Point State Park will be used are still a work in progress.

When you have hundreds of thousands of people in just a few blocks of each other, safety is a question. Mayor Ed Gainey said he is working with Public Safety on how to handle the crowds. He even spoke with leaders in Detroit about how they brought it all together.

"He started talking about the coordination between different agencies," Gainey said about his conversation with Detroit leaders.

A full plan has not been finalized. Parking and moving people from one point to the other is more of the same.

The 6,000 hotel rooms in Downtown are expected to be filled for this event. Visit Pittsburgh CEO Jerad Bachar said the NFL has spent a considerable amount of time in Pittsburgh figuring out logistics.

"They're satisfied with everything that we have on offer, including the number of hotel rooms," Bachar said.

He said the NFL has already started reaching out to those businesses. A bonus for the area is the new airport terminal will be done by then. As of right now, the Steelers have not yet asked the state for public money in helping put this event together.

"We have great leadership in our business community that are willing to step up and contribute to covering some of the cost of the draft as well," Steelers President Art Rooney II said.

Gov. Josh Shapiro said the state is willing to help with anything the team needs.

"The commonwealth will make the investments we need to make there. We're prepared to make this an awesome experience for everybody," Shapiro said on Thursday.

Gainey believes this event can be a reason for people who moved away to come back home and see what the city has to offer.

Even if you are not a sports fan, elected officials said the influx of economic support should make everyone happy. It's expected this will bring in between $120 million to $165 million.

Visit Detroit says the draft took planning and waiting

Pittsburghers want to enjoy this opportunity -- live it up and hopefully make some money. Visit Detroit says they did all of that, but it took a ton of planning and patiently waiting.

Chris Moyer with Visit Detroit said the planning starts now, because it takes years. And you won't really hear from the NFL until they get through their season and the Super Bowl.

Don't forget, Green Bay has it first, so Pittsburgh has some time.

Detroit made sure to partner with businesses big and small, and they also made sure to engage people in communities from across all different racial and ethnic and religious lines to make sure it was an event for everybody.

When it came to making money off the event, Moyer said they put a huge focus on their minority business owners. 

"The city of Detroit was really, really committed to making sure that our Detroit's the largest Black majority city in the country. We wanted to make sure that Black business owners, that business owners, minority business owners, had the opportunity to work directly with the NFL. And more than 60 Detroit businesses got contracts to work the NFL draft. Millions of dollars were spent by the NFL on Detroit businesses. And then we're in the process of tabulating the full economic impact. But it's going to be in the hundreds of millions."

Moyer said it's left a lasting impact on those businesses and the strength of Detroit for years to come.

Detroit saw tens of thousands of out of town visitors, some from as far as 11,000 miles away. About 33% of all people at the draft came from more than 100 miles away.

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