nfldraft
Photo: Marianne O'Leary / Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia football fans: Get ready to dive into the 2017 NFL season before it even begins. The NFL draft will be coming to the hometown of the Eagles from April 27 to 29.

The draft will take place outdoors for the first time, in a huge outdoor theater built for the event in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

A section of Benjamin Franklin Parkway will transform into a free festival the size of 25 football fields that will feature the Vince Lombardi Trophy, a 100-yard zip line and virtual reality exhibits, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

ESPN reported that 200,000 people are expected to attend the NFL draft, including 3,000 lucky fans who will have tickets to enter the outdoor theater and witness the draft picks celebrate their selection by an NFL team.

"It’s no secret Philadelphians are passionate about their sports teams, particularly the Eagles," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said during an announcement Tuesday at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, according to The Inquirer. "In 2015 it was the Pope. In 2016 the DNC, and now, in 2017, it’s the NFL draft."

The city is projected to reap $86 million in economic benefits from the draft, according to NBC10. The Inquirer reported that the cost of the event — between $20 million and $25 million — will be primarily covered by the NFL.

ESPN noted that the first-ever NFL draft took place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia in 1936. 

"The draft has come home," NFL Senior Vice President of events Peter O'Reilly told ESPN. "We've come a long way since then, for sure, and we're thrilled to come to Philadelphia to take the draft to that next level."

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