Over the next several days, officials expect well over 250,000 football fans to flock to AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the NFL Draft. It’s the first time the draft will be held at a football venue.
The city has hosted some big time events before: the Super Bowl, World Series games and Beyoncé. But people don’t stick around. Now, with a somewhat captive audience, businesses in Arlington’s nearby downtown are looking to pull in some serious revenue this weekend.
Matt Wilson thinks North Texans are missing out by not hanging out in Arlington.
“Dallas does that tagline very well -- they always say 'big things happen here,' and that’s absolutely true," he said. "But, in Arlington, we crown champions.”
Wilson’s with the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau, which works with the Dallas Sports Commission to bring big athletic events to town.
He says the draft helps put Arlington on a global stage. When fans watch on TV, he points out that broadcasters won’t say “Dallas” like they may have in years past. Sports fans know where they are.
“Not to take anything away from Dallas, but the people of Arlington built this stadium,” he said. “They deserve that credit.”
The credit and the cash. Some experts predict the NFL draft could have an economic impact of up to $100 million. One person who’s excited about all the football fans in town is Greg McCarthy, owner of Legal Draft brewery. His spot is only about a mile from the stadium.
He said out-of-town fans will probably search online for “brewery near stadium.”
“We should be the first thing that comes up,” McCarthy said.
Even though the stadium’s been around for almost 10 years, downtown Arlington businesses are still trying to get more of that fan traffic in the door.
So, for the NFL Draft, McCarthy and his neighboring businesses decided they’d just bring the people to them. Together, they’re offering shuttles to and from the stadium.
Their target audience are people like Greg Hampton of New York. He’s a Giants fan in town for only one day to catch the draft.
“I think this is awesome right here,” he said about the experience. “The fact that we have all these different fans all together at one location, I think it's a beautiful thing.”
Even more beautiful, says McCarthy, will be a future when the mile between his taproom and AT&T Stadium is lined with bars and clubs, instead of tire shops and car dealerships.
Then, he says Arlington will have an entertainment district.
“Once we get that critical mass, then we'll start having people from Dallas coming here, and from Fort Worth coming here," McCarthy said.
"The same way that we've been going to Dallas and Fort Worth for this sort of thing for 25 years.”