Pittsburgh Wins Bid to Host 2026 NFL Draft, Boosting State’s Tourism and Economy

NFL DraftCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PITTSBURGH, PA — Pittsburgh, a renowned city of champions, has been selected to host the 2026 NFL Draft, officials confirmed on Thursday. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, and Pittsburgh Steelers President Arthur Rooney II at Acrisure Stadium made the announcement.

The bid to bring the NFL Draft to Pittsburgh was a major commitment under Governor Shapiro’s plan to transform Pennsylvania into a prime destination for national tourism. This commitment included a direct dialogue with NFL leadership and a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Pittsburgh’s dynamic qualities make it the best choice to host the NFL Draft,” asserted Governor Shapiro. He emphasized the relevance of showcasing the strength of Pittsburgh during the nation’s 250th birthday celebrations in 2026.

Furthermore, Lieutenant Governor Davis pointed out the significance of the event for young football players and its potential to display Pennsylvania’s vibrancy. He expressed his anticipation for the country to witness the grit, enthusiasm, and passion for football inherent to his hometown.

This occasion is among the roster of premier events set to occur in Pennsylvania in 2026. The state will also host America’s 250th birthday, the MLB All-Star Game, the FIFA World Cup, NCAA March Madness, and the PGA Championship, suggesting an exciting year for Pennsylvania and sports fans alike.

According to Steelers President Rooney II, the NFL Draft will serve to highlight Pittsburgh’s rich offerings at a global scale. He praised the combined efforts of the NFL, local and state officials, and his organization in successfully securing the hosting rights, which he said would give football fans a chance to enjoy the city’s unique culture and football tradition.

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VisitPITTSBURGH, the city’s tourism organization, estimates a $120 million to $160 million economic surge into Pennsylvania’s economy as a result of hosting the Draft.

Mayor Gainey described the selection as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to present Pittsburgh to an international audience and erase boundaries, uniting the city with football. Similarly, Allegheny County Executive Innamorato expressed delight at the county’s involvement, citing the opportunity to exhibit local cultural treasures to visiting sports fans.

Pennsylvania tourism is a significant industry, contributing over $76 billion annually and supporting more than 486,000 jobs. Reflecting its importance, Governor Shapiro’s 2024-25 budget proposed an $18 million funding increase for tourism and business marketing.

Emphasizing Pennsylvania’s appeal as a tourism destination, DCED Secretary Rick Siger said, “Pittsburgh is one of the great American sports towns and one of the most dynamic cities on the East Coast – it is the perfect city to host the 2026 NFL draft.” The draft signifies another stride in Pennsylvania’s journey to become a beloved destination for sports enthusiasts and travelers, demonstrating its robust capabilities as a host for elite sports events.

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