(CBS) The Chicago Park District waived a $937,500 rental fee and a security deposit for the NFL to use Grant Park when it held the draft in the city from April 30-May 2, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday afternoon.
An outdoor fan festival dubbed “Draft Town” was held in Grant Park, and it was a large selling point for mayor Rahm Emanuel to help persuade the NFL to move its big event from New York City to Chicago this this year for the first time since 1964. By all accounts, the fan festival went over well, with more than 200,000 estimated to have attended the draft and an NFL spokesman saying of how it all played out, “It far exceeded our expectations.”
Perhaps part of that glowing review was because the use of Grant Park was free. Typically, it would cost around $1 million to host an event the size of the NFL Draft, the Tribune reported, but the this was a different circumstance because it was deemed a benefit to the public.
“In certain circumstances, organizers of events that are open to the public enter into a partnership agreement with the Park District,” a Chicago Park District spokesperson told the Tribune. “In these partnerships, the event organizers do not have to pay a park rental fee because the event is determined to offer a public benefit.”
Choose Chicago is the nonprofit tourism agency that played a leading role organizing the event and helped finance it. A spokesperson for Choose Chicago emphasized again that no taxpayer money was used to host the NFL Draft, the Tribune reported.
The NFL is a nearly $10 billion business. It spent “millions” on the draft, the Tribune reported.