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Fantasy Advice

Attending the NFL Draft: The Ultimate Guide to Getting There

By April 21, 2014 No Comments

Updated 2/25/15: Although the NFL Draft has moved out of NYC for 2015, the experience and the love for the NFL Draft hasn't changed. Almost all of this article is accurate about the experience and the fun you'll have (or miss out on).

Every year thousands of diehard NFL fans make the trip to Radio City Music Hall in New York City to attend the NFL Draft. If you’re truly as die hard of a fan as you say you are, it’s a trip that you need to make at least once in your life.

Taking a trip to the NFL draft is about more than just fantasy football or your love for the NFL. It’s about being able to experience the true culture and excitement that the NFL has to offer. I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended the draft the past two years.

Looking back at those trips I have to say that they were worth every second I spent there. The experience is unlike any other, however it seems I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start by breaking down how you can attend the NFL draft in 2014 and beyond.

The 2014 NFL Draft

There are obviously some important details to be aware of when considering attending the NFL draft. Some of those include the when, the where and the why.

Where: Radio City Music Hall in NYC
When: May 8th, 2014  - May 10th, 2014
Why: Because you love football. It’s as simple as that.

These details are clearly an important starting point for your NFL draft experience. It’s important to note that the draft has been in New York for a number of years, however the NFL is considering other cities for the draft.

That means I’d recommend that those of you on the east coast (myself included) take advantage of the opportunity while you can.

Unless money isn’t a problem and you can fly to the draft regardless of the city it’s hosted in. In that case I’ll admit that I envy you slightly.

Getting Tickets to the NFL Draft

Getting tickets to the NFL draft can get tricky. I’m going to exclude the option of getting tickets from someone you know who works for Radio City, the NFL, the press, etc. because odds are you’re probably looking for a more traditional route. Your draft day options will vary by round, which is why I’ve broken them down below.

Round 1: Where the Action Happens

This my friends, is the promised land. I was able to make it to the first round of the NFL draft in 2013 with two great friends of mine (and fellow authors of this site). I won’t speak for them but it was the time of my life. Attending round 1 of the NFL draft isn’t just about the experience inside Radio City Music Hall, it’s about the time you spend trying to get in, the relationships you make along the way and all of the football you get to talk with complete strangers.

Our Experience and Recommendations

I’m going to walk you through our experience of attending round 1 of the NFL draft for the first time and make recommendations for you along the way.

As we had considered ourselves diehard fans and had been playing fantasy football for a number of years we felt that it was time we took a trip to our “promised land”. We conducted our research online and found that we could gather the information we needed, however it was never in one convenient place. We learned that we couldn’t buy our way into the NFL draft and were going to have to wait it out for tickets the night prior to round 1. Disclaimer: If you are not willing to wait on line the night prior to the draft to get a ticket to guarantee entrance the following night (and you don’t have a behind the scenes connection) there is a 99% chance that you will not be getting into round 1 of the NFL Draft.

We were up to the task and planned accordingly. We arrived in NYC at approximately 3:30 pm on the night prior to the draft and quickly made our way towards Radio City. We were decked out in our favorite teams gear and got plenty of smartass remarks as we walked the streets of New York. These remarks actually made the experience that much better as it was just more motivation to reach our so-called promised land.

We arrived at Radio City around 4 pm with water bottles and snacks in hand (if you plan to make this trip yourselves make sure you come prepared). We saw that the line was only a few hundred people long at this point, which meant we loved our odds at eventually getting tickets. Disclaimer: We were never sure, and remain unsure to this day, what time you are allowed to start lining up for the draft. We were fortunate that the line was not extremely long by 4pm.

We jumped on the line filled with excitement. All of our planning and hard work was finally paying off, we were only 5 or so hours away from receiving our wristbands (or so we hoped).

The dangerous thing about getting on line for the draft and waiting it out is the same as it is on Black Friday. When the doors open there are only so many items available, and if you’re not there before they’re gone you’re shit out of luck.

The experience at Radio City is much more organized and respectful than some of the Black Friday nightmares we see on TV. However you must always be aware that those strangers around you will do everything in their power to make sure they get their ticket before you.

Making Friends On the Line for NFL Draft Tickets

We recommend that you wear some of your favorite team colors to wait in line for the NFL draft. Choosing to wear just the colors is our minimum recommendation as we recommend going decked out in all of your teams gear. It will allow you to bond with those in line around you and keep conversations flowing. Disclaimer: Be mindful of the weather and temperatures. We were fortunate to have beautiful weather, although things became colder as night rolled around.

Don’t be worried if you aren’t an extremely outgoing person as everyone in line with you shares the same passion: the NFL. You’ll have countless things to talk about and you may develop some friends that you may need as the hours pass.

Speaking of needing those friends, we recommend being mindful of the amount of water you drink while on line and prior to getting in line. While we waited on line we made friends with a group of Lions fans who were absolutely fantastic. They booed along with us as we ridiculed the Jets fans in front of us who were being jerks to nearly everyone that passed, and they came in clutch when we need to go the bathroom.

Radio City security / NYPD will not allow you to leave line to use the restroom and then return to your previous spot on line. Once you leave your spot you should consider it as good as gone. As all of us are guys we were able to count on our newly found Lions friends to build a human wall as we took care of business and vice versa. It may sound like an odd bonding experience but it was one that brought us all together.

The Pre-Draft Excitement

As you’re waiting on line for the NFL draft you’ll encounter a lot of complete strangers. Some of them will be fellow fans, some will be bloggers looking to interview you or ask you for a mock pick (look for us in 2014!) and others will be live TV crews and NFL legends.

Your odds of seeing and speaking with representatives from a TV crew and/or meeting and getting autographs from NFL legends will increase the closer you are to the front of the line.

We found that the TV crews were in attendance for most, if not all, of the time we were on line. However NFL legends and analysts did not come out to greet the fans until roughly 8pm.

The opportunity to take photos with, get autographs from and speak with these legends and analysts is very real. My fellow blogger, Matt Rodgers, was able to speak with and get numerous autographs in 2013. The key to success here is to be close to the metal stanchions that separate you from the road and to be willing to push through people. The strong will prevail.

Around approximately 9pm the doors to Radio City will open and the fans will begin to flood in. Security controls the flow through the entire process which limits the chance of a stampede that may include you getting trampled.

Recommendation: Only bring things that you absolutely need. Be willing to throw your food and drink away prior to going in the doors to Radio City to get your wristband. They will require that you go through an additional line if you have bags that you are not willing to throw out. This will delay your chance to get a wristband (and may hinder your odds at getting one depending on your spot in line).

Before you can enter you will go through a metal detector and assuming you pass without any issues, a wristband will be waiting on the other side. Once you get your wristband you’re free to enjoy the rest of your night in New York City. On the way out the door the NFL provided us with a slice of Pizza and an NFL stool. They were nice little tokens after waiting for hours outside (although the stool would have been more useful in the hours prior to getting it).

The Day of the NFL Draft

Now that you’ve withstood the test of getting your wristband you can enjoy the time prior to the draft knowing that you are guaranteed a seat. Although your seat is guaranteed, the seat you will get is completely random and determined when you enter prior to the draft. You will have the opportunity to request that all of your tickets are next to eachother (if you went with a group) upon entering. They will do everything they can to honor your request (however be mindful that the later you arrive the lower the chance you will get seats for your entire group in one area).

We recommend eating and drinking prior to arriving at the draft. You will be required to throw out all of your food and drink while on line outside Radio City prior to entering. Inside Radio City the food and drink are just as expensive as you’re imagining. Don’t go there on an empty stomach. They also don’t serve alcohol at the draft, which I think is an odd strategy.

Once you’re inside the draft you’ll have the opportunity to take pictures with the Super Bowl trophy, take part in various vendor booths and potentially meet analysts and players. The earlier you are in line the greater your chance of getting to take full advantage of your opportunities.

As you approach your seats keep your eyes peeled for a section of fan bags (goodie bags). Inside them will be a lot of free giveaway products from sponsors, NFL literature for the draft and a headpiece. This headpiece allows you to hear the analysts that are setup at the draft. You’ll be able to flip between ESPN and NFL radio and listen to these analysts in real time. There will also be two big screens (one on each side) so that you can see the analysts as they speak in addition to being able to see the draft happen in person.

Once you’ve settled into your seats take a second to take in the entire experience. The fans, the noise, the sights. It’s all absolutely incredible and it should be the dream of every NFL fan.

Be ready to scream your heart out as Goodell announces your teams pick. It’s way cooler than it sounds. Recommendation: Avoid twitter and social media while actually inside the draft as the picks will be announced by analysts online before Goodell can make the announcement. You’ve come this far, don’t let the experience get ruined because you just had to check twitter.

As the draft moves forward you’ll enjoy every pick, even when it’s not your teams. Be ready for trades and surprises, they always happen.

The night will be over before you know it, I promise. So enjoy the time you spend waiting in line the night before, the time you spend trying to get into Radio City and the draft itself. it’ll be an experience unlike any other. Also, take some pictures. You never know how long it may take to get back to the promised land.

Notes about Round 1 and waiting for wristbands:

Wristbands are given out the night prior to the draft to those who wait in line (assuming they have not met capacity). They place the wristband on your wrist and you are informed that the wristband must remain intact and show no signs of complete tear or cuts when you return for the draft the following night.

It’s easy to presume that this was to prevent people from waiting on line and then selling their wristband to those who really wanted to get into round 1 of the draft.

Round 2 & 3: The Experience is Just as Cool

The first year I was able to attend the draft I was able to go for rounds 2&3. Much of the process that is detailed in the round 1 section above remains accurate.

You have the opportunity to wait outside Radio City during round 1 of the NFL draft to ensure you will gain entrance to round 2 the following night. This is not the option I chose to pursue, which means theres another way to get in.

If you choose to wait the night of round 1 for tickets for rounds 2&3 please don’t expect the same experience as those who waited on the first night. You’ll likely see less TV cameras and there likely won’t be celebrities and analysts coming out to greet you (they’ll be inside for the draft). However I’m sure you’ll still find dedicated and passionate fans who can’t wait to see it live.

I’ll skip repeating all of the steps from above, but I believe that this method is almost a guarantee that you’ll gain entrance for round 2. I was able to gain entrance without waiting the night prior, which means everyone who did wait was able to get a wristband.

The details of the 2nd Round

Where: Radio City Music Hall in NYC
When: May 9th, 2014
Why: Because you love football.
Obtain Tickets Online: http://1iota.com/Show/368/2014-NFL-Draft

If you’re interested in attending Day 2 of the NFL Draft without waiting in line the night prior I recommend registering online at the link above. 1iota was partnered with the NFL in 2012, which is how I obtained tickets that year. It appears they have continued their relationship for 2014.

Here you are able to request free tickets to the draft and will be granted these tickets if they have some available. They are looking for 1,500 people to get into the draft. Radio City holds approximately 10,000 people, which means you’ll have to be in the 15% that doesn’t wait on line.

1iota will administer more than 1,500 tickets as people will request them and then end up not going. Disclaimer: Obtaining these tickets from 1iota is not a guarantee of entrance. They will only accept as many of these tickets at the door as their occupancy levels allow.

This means that you still need to arrive to Radio City early. I mean hours before the draft is supposed to begin. If you arrive at draft time I highly doubt you will be able to get in unless you have tickets from another source or a wristband from the night prior.

When I was able to attend rounds 2&3 I waited in line with one of my best friends for nearly two hours. We were one of the last people they allowed into the draft before breaking the news to the crowd that they were filled to capacity. I’d be lying if I said my heart wasn’t racing as I approached the front of the line. They announced that they were almost out of tickets and I was on edge.

Luckily we were able to sneak in as two of the last few, however we very easily could have been two of the people just a few rows back. This is important to note as you always need to hold your ground while in line. Don’t allow people to jump or cut you. It may seem harmless at the time, however it could come back to haunt you.

The round 2 experience was still awesome and we were able to take advantage of many of the same opportunities that you can in round 1. The fans are just as rowdy and the picks are still rolling in (just likely less known than in round 1).

If you’re a true NFL fan you’ll still enjoy round 2 of the NFL draft. It provides many of the same perks as round 1, without the requirement that you camp out the night prior.

Disclaimer: We in no way guarantee that these methods will be successful for you (although they should be). With that said, we have had success in two consecutive years and plan to approach the draft the same way in 2014.

Rounds 4-7 of the NFL Draft

Here are the important details of rounds 4-7 of attending the NFL Draft.

Where: Radio City Music Hall in NYC
When: May 9th, 2014
Why: Because you love football.
Obtain Tickets Online: http://1iota.com/Show/368/2014-NFL-Draft

I have never personally attend rounds 4-7 or day 3 of the NFL Draft. I’ve been told that it is not necessary to camp out the night prior and that many people have had success obtaining tickets through the link above. Those who have used the link above have had success getting into the draft only 30 minutes prior to the start. Although that is taking a risk, it may work this year.

Attending the draft in any round should be a dream come true for any NFL fan. If you can’t camp out and still want to attend I’d recommend going for rounds 4-7. There will still be plenty of excitement and events going on.

The most important thing is to find the fun in the experience. Enjoy the opportunity you have. Not everyone can say they’ve been to the NFL draft.

Attending the NFL Draft

At the end of the day getting to the promised land is a victory regardless of the round, the time you spent on line or the amount of money you spent. Cherish the experience you get while being there with friends and family. Also take advantage of being able to boo your rivals and scream your heart out. There’s nothing quite like it when you’re decked out in all of your favorite teams gear.

Have some questions about our experience, recommendations or how to get there yourself? Let us know in the comments below.

Nick Schreck

Nick Schreck

I’m a simple man with simple pleasures. As someone who’s always approached life with the attitude that things could be worse, I’ve had an awesome time so far. I've been a fantasy addict for nearly a decade, and I've loved every second of it.

For the record, I never actually played football. I have no doubt that I would get crushed running across the middle for a pass, every single time.
Nick Schreck

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