DOWNTOWN — Banners for next month's NFL Draft in Chicago are sprouting Downtown.
The banners on Jackson and Columbus drives are the first sign of Grant Park's impending transformation into a fan festival supporting the NFL's marquee offseason event. Chicago is hosting the draft again April 28-30 after taking it from New York last year.
The draft, whose first three rounds will take place inside Roosevelt University's Auditorium Theatre, will again include a free "Draft Town" festival inhabiting Grant Park, where football fans can eat, drink, and challenge friends and virtual NFL stars to athletic contests. The draft's last four rounds April 30 will also be held in the park.
Last year's event also included autograph sessions with NFL players, rows of food stands picked by local chef Graham Elliot, and hordes of football memorabilia. Officials with Chicago Park District and local tourism booster Choose Chicago deferred questions about this year's draft to the NFL, which declined to say if this year's event will have any new attractions.
The banners were seen on Jackson between Columbus and Lake Shore drives, and on Columbus between Wacker Drive and Randolph Street. Street closures around Grant Park began about a week before last year's draft.
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