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2015 NFL Draft to be held in Chicago

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Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press
Chicago will host the NFL draft for the first time since 1964.

The 2015 NFL Draft will be held April 30-May 2 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University in Chicago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday.

"We are excited to have fans from throughout the midwest experience the NFL Draft," Goodell said in a statement announcing the draft location. "We look forward to returning the event to the city of Chicago and working with the city, Choose Chicago, and the Chicago Sports Commission to create a week-long celebration of football for our fans. Mayor Emanuel and the city of Chicago presented us with numerous ways to enhance the Draft experience for our fans and incoming players."

The Windy City beat out Los Angeles, which was the other finalist in the running to host the league's marquee event next year. Various sites across the country expressed interest in hosting the affair but couldn't beat out a strong bid from Chicago that was backed by Emanuel.

"Chicago is pleased to welcome the 2015 NFL Draft to America's heartland," Emanuel said in a statement. "Next year, NFL fans from across the country will travel here or tune in as the future of their team is decided in Chicago. We look forward to working with the Chicago Bears, the NFL, and our neighborhood partners to make this an event that highlights our world class city and reinvests in our communities."

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While the location of the draft was up in the air for several months, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported earlier Thursday that the event would be held April 30 through May 2. There had been some speculation that the draft was going to be expanded to four days but a three-day format will remain next year. Round 1 will be held on April 30 with Rounds 2-3 scheduled for May 1 and Rounds 4-7 set for May 2.

The new site will mark the first time the draft has been held outside of New York City since 1964, when it took place in Chicago. The draft was held at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan for the past nine years but scheduling issues forced the draft to be moved back this year and the site was already booked in 2015 during the dates the NFL was considering for the event.

The draft itself will be held at Roosevelt University's Auditorium Theatre right in the heart of downtown Chicago. A nearby area big enough to hold a fan festival was a key part of NFL criteria for submitted bids, and this year's event will expand outside to picturesque Grant Park and Congress Plaza. There will be an outdoor fan festival for all three days of the draft.

Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and convention center McCormick Place were also mentioned as potential venues to host the 2015 NFL Draft if the city were awarded the event.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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