PHILADELPHIA -- The 2017 NFL draft is still three-plus weeks away, but the numbers are already staggering.
According to the league, 168,000 fans had signed up as of March 31 for the fan mobile pass for the upcoming NFL draft experience in Philadelphia. Registration has been open for one month. That’s the most registrations ever received over that time frame.
For context, 54,000 fans signed up during the same period for last year’s draft in Chicago; the numbers for Philadelphia are up more than 200 percent.
“We are thrilled to bring our largest football festival -- with free activities for fans of all ages -- to Philadelphia, the birthplace of the NFL draft,” said NFL director of communications Kamran Mumtaz.
In early March, Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney estimated that the draft would draw some 200,000 people to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway during the three-day event. Judging by the early returns, the city might have to adjust those figures.
Fans are incentivized to get the mobile pass because they can be randomly selected to win tickets to be seated inside the NFL draft theatre, which seats about 3,000 people. The registration numbers don’t account for those who decline to sign up for the app and simply show up. Since the festival is free and no registration is needed, that group could be rather large.
For the first time, the NFL is building its own set to house the draft. The open-air theater will be constructed on the historic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Because of the design, fans without seated tickets will still have the opportunity to view the draft, according to the NFL. The accompanying festival will stretch along the parkway the length of 25 football fields.
In another first, fans from all 50 states have registered for the event. As you might expect, the top five states in terms of sign-ups are Pennsylvania and neighboring New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Delaware.
The NFL draft will be held April 27-29.