CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Advocates for sporting events in Charlotte talked about the potential of bringing the NFL draft to the Queen City one day.
Danny Morrison, the CEO of the Charlotte Sports Foundation, said, "We've done preliminary work on the NFL draft. We went to Kansas City. We got a good feel for watching it up close and personal, but we've got a lot of work to do, to know how it would unfold here in Charlotte."
The NFL announced more than 54 million people watched the three-day event on TV, while more than 312,000 attended in person. They're numbers Morrison said would be good for Charlotte.
"Our mission with the Charlotte Sports Foundation is to bring high-profile sporting events to Charlotte that have an economic impact and add to the quality of life," Morrison told WCNC Charlotte reporter and anchor Jane Monreal. "Every big event in Charlotte has delivered, from the Wells Fargo [Cup] this past weekend to the President's Cup, back to the NBA All-Star game."
According to the foundation's annual report from 2022, visitor spending for the year reached nearly $42 million as a direct result of the sporting events brought to the Charlotte area.
Morrison said it's been an exciting time for sports in Charlotte. Eduardo Marquez agrees; he's a fan of all of Charlotte's professional sports teams, including the Panthers.
"It's been hard being fans of teams that aren't doing so well, but right now, the future looks bright for the Panthers, the Hornets," he said.
Panthers super fan Sonjia Howard went to the NFL draft in Kansas City. After breaking her ankle at the Tampa-Carolina game in October of 2022, she said going to the draft for the first time was a dream come true. She believes having the draft in Charlotte would be great for all fans.
"That was magical and amazing," Howard said. "It was truly unforgettable. And I'm so grateful I had this opportunity to experience this," Howard said of her 2023 experience.
Another super fan who made the trip, Ryleigh Pope, added, "It was so crazy to experience. It was just seeing all the Panther fans just so excited for the first pick. It was just, it's like nothing I've ever seen before."
Morrison emphasized any discussion is still in the exploratory stage, but said there's plenty of support from partners, calling it the "secret sauce."
"I say it all the time, it's the harmony of everybody working together, from the venues to the city, the county, the CRVA (Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority), the sports foundation. People want it to be a special place to bring events, and I think Charlotte's delivering on that," Morrison said. "The community works so well together. And of course, the Panthers have been so supportive of that."
The 2024 NFL draft will be held in Detroit, and the 2025 location should be announced soon. The earliest Charlotte would be able to host would be 2026. A date to submit a bid to the NFL has not been set.