2019 NFL Draft’s Big Winner – Nashville

In late April, 254 young men had their dreams realized as they were chosen by teams in the 2019 NFL Draft. The draft had many winners. From the teams that saw their fortunes change to the individuals joining the elite athletic ranks. Yet, the unsung winner of the 2019 NFL Draft may have little do with any games being played on Sundays this fall.

Nashville, Tennessee was the second city to earn the right to host the NFL Draft following the league’s decision to spread the event to cities around the country. Prior to 2018, every draft was held in New York City. So what does hosting the NFL Draft mean for a city in the late spring?

At Placer.ai, we analyze tens of thousands of mobile devices and use AI to project an overall estimate for the total number of visitors of any given sight or tourist destination. This allows our customers to make data-driven decisions for their businesses. In this case, we used Placer’s capabilities to gauge the potential benefits for the city of Nashville after being chosen for the draft. These are our findings.

The Draft Boost

With several months passing without a game being played, the NFL’s wide appeal still helped Nashville drive significant boosts in the area of the event. Thursday foot traffic in the area of the draft came to 98,968, a 266% increase on the average Thursday for the first four months of 2019. It beat out the highest Thursday to that point – March 28 – by over 28%.

The impact was felt on Friday – the second day of the event, though far less heralded – as well, where 113,533 visitors surpassed the 2019 average for a Friday by 169%, though it did fall short of the highest traffic Friday thus far.

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The Night Starts Early

The power of the event also tilted habits, bringing in significantly larger crowds at times that differed from the normal patterns of normal Thursday or Friday foot fall. With the draft kicking off at 8:00pm EST, the area around the event saw 31% of visitors come out between 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

This amounted to an increase of 24% on a normal Thursday or Friday, when the foot traffic is more evenly spread throughout the day and tilts more to later in the night.

Wider Attractions

The event also brought in an audience that was interested in visiting areas that would otherwise likely have been passed over. For example, while Nashville normally pulls in significant traffic on Thursdays and Fridays to locations focused on music, the sports theme had an impact on the wider city. On draft Weekend, 7% of visitors to the area were coming from Nissan Stadium – the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans –  with another 3.6% going there following a stop at the main event. This is a dramatic increase on a normal Thursday and Friday when traffic to and from those sites is less than 1% for downtown visitors.


The success of the event speaks to the ability of a city to garner interest and energy around an event and to maximize the event to bring attention to similar sites. Not only did Nashville enjoy a major boost to area traffic, they were able to bring attention to sites that would normally lie in a state of quiet during this time of year. The ability to understand traffic patterns during these events, and plan complementary experiences can provide a major boost to cities looking to maximize the impact of a local event.

Placer.ai is considered the world’s most advanced foot traffic analytics platforms allowing anyone in the retail/commercial industry to instantly generate insights into any physical place for a deeper understanding of audiences and competition. In essence, they have access to a percentage of overall phones and use AI to model and project an overall estimate for total number of visitors allowing its customers to make data-driven decisions based on precise human movement analytics.

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