AEG Goes Long For NFL Draft

Los Angeles hasn’t had a pro football team since 1994, but AEG hopes to land a National Football League marquee event next year: the NFL draft.

The league’s two-year contract with Radio City Music Hall expired with the April event, and the Los Angeles Times reports that AEG has been in preliminary discussions with the NFL to bring it to Nokia Theatre LA Live starting next year.

"We think it would be phenomenal in L.A. and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to get it here," AEG President/CEO Tim Leiweke told the paper. And NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the talks, adding that L.A. isn’t the only city taking an interest.

"There seems to be a great deal of interest from various cities to do it. We think Radio City has been terrific, and obviously being in the media capital is a terrific thing for us, but it is something that we continue to evaluate, and we haven’t come to any conclusion on it," Goodell told the Times.

The two-day NFL draft has become a bonafide media event in recent years, with this year’s ESPN and NFL Network combined viewership passing the 36.6 million mark.

While no formal talks between AEG and the NFL have taken place, Leiweke outlined an economic package that would involve the company and city that’s "not any different than what we do with the Grammys and the X Games," the paper reported. Leiweke added that he’s cleared the Nokia Theatre schedule in late April 2009 to accommodate the NFL.

The plan makes sense for AEG and the NFL, considering the Nokia is conveniently located across the street from ESPN broadcast studios and webcasting facilities. Its 40,000-square-foot plaza could also provide ample room for the league’s NFL Experience fan event. And the area has no shortage of restaurants, clubs, bars and other hospitality locations.

Getting back to the lack of an NFL team, bringing the league to town for the draft has its benefits for Los Angeles.

"It’s fantastic that they have a chance to come back to L.A. and prove that in fact it is a market they care about, and maybe eventually it leads to a team," Leiweke told the Times.

Billionaire developer Ed Roski, who wants to build an NFL stadium in suburban City of Industry, told the paper bringing the draft to L.A. would be "a real sign that the NFL is very serious about Southern California, and I would look at it as a very positive step for bringing a team back."

All this talk doesn’t mean that Radio City is completely out of the picture, however. League officials have said that several cities have expressed interest, and a new deal could still be struck with the New York venue.

Prior to the run at Radio City Music Hall, the NFL draft has made its home at NYC’s Javits Center and Madison Square Garden. The draft was moved from Philadelphia to New York in 1965.