NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After months of planning and preparation, NFL Draft weekend is set to begin in Music City as 300,000 people are expected in downtown Nashville over the course of the event.
Most fans will be spread out throughout the downtown footprint with some on Lower Broad and some across the Cumberland River at Nissan Stadium.
For the city, safety and security are a priority with extensive cooperation from local, state and federal agencies.
Metro police said 400 officers per day will be devoted to ensuring safety during the NFL Draft weekend.
The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. will have entry points around downtown to check for prohibited items like backpacks and coolers.
The NFL will have “grabbers” on hand 24-7 who can remove concrete barriers to make room for emergency vehicles as needed.
A hotline has been established by Metro police to report anything suspicious as part of the “
See something, say something” campaign. The number is 615-880-1515.
The NFL Draft Experience outside Nissan Stadium will open to fans at noon Thursday.
The experience is two-million square feet of fun — and, according to organizers, Nashville’s NFL Experience will be the biggest footprint in its history.
There are several interactive games at the Experience, so you can practice your touch pass or race against your opponents on a giant, 40-yard-long LED wall.
NFL officials say the goal is to offer something for everyone, NFL fan or not.
For families that want to come and be part of the action, but not the party downtown, the NFL Experience is for you. You can watch the Draft live on dozens of screens while you play games and have fun.
Everything is free, but to take part in any of the interactive games, you will need to download the free NFL Fan Mobile Pass app.
If you’re planning on heading to the bars and honky-tonks along Nashville’s Lower Broadway during the NFL Draft, you should know, not all the bars will be open to the public.
Tootsies, Acme Feed and Seed, Hard Rock, and others have already been rented out. But as that list grows, other Broadway bars have committed to staying open to the public during the days of the Draft.
Some other bars open during the Draft — Second Fiddle, Layla’s, Legends Corner, and Robert’s Western World.
Likewise, TC Restaurant Group, which includes Tequila Cowboy, Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar, Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink, FGL House, Crazy Town, and Sun Diner, will all be open to fans during the Draft.
Officials with the NFL say more volunteers applied to help than needed.
Some 800 volunteers went through training Thursday, which was called “FANS FIRST!”
The 90-minute session included new renderings of the Draft layout, details about The NFL Fan Mobile Pass app, the Draft Experience, and an overview of the entire event.
With about 300,000 visitors expected in Nashville for the NFL Draft weekend, there will be lots of traffic.
With that traffic, parking will likely get tricky.
Thursday through Saturday, you can park for free at several NFL Draft designated lots:
- Nissan Stadium Lots A, B, C and D
- Main Event Parking Lot at James Robertson Parkway and Main Street, 14 James Robertson Parkway
- CrossPoint Church at 299 Cowan Street
- After 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and all day Saturday, the State of Tennessee lots No. 16, 28 and 29 located off James Robertson Parkway by Rosa Parks Boulevard
On Saturday, there will be more closures:
- Boyle Garage at HCA in North Gulch
- Vanderbilt University Parking lot on Chestnut Street across from Greer Stadium (free shuttle runs 8 am – 11 pm)
- State Employee Parking Lot at 400 10th Circle North (free shuttle runs 5 p.m. through 12 a.m. on Thursday, April 25; 5 p.m. through 12 a.m. on Friday, April 26; and 5:30 a.m. through 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 27)
The catch is free parking is first-come, first-serve.
For those who live outside of downtown, there’s WeGo Transit buses and the Music City Star.
Regular rates will apply, meaning you’ll spend $1.70 one way by bus, or up to $5.25 one way by train.
Because the Riverfront Station is closed due to Draft construction, starting Wednesday, Star riders will be picked up and dropped off at a temporary pick-up and drop-off location, right behind Ascend Amphitheater.
According to WeGo Transit, all service times will run on regular schedules during the days of the Draft, but trains won’t be held past those times to accommodate bus connections.
Another option: grab a rideshare.
Be aware of prices surges with the influx of people in town for the Draft.
When that happens, Lyft told News 2, riders will be alerted and they’ll have to confirm they accept the multiplier before requetsing a ride.