Gov. Shapiro visits Pittsburgh to celebrate the city winning the 2026 NFL Draft

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Gov. Josh Shapiro celebrates Pittsburgh’s selection as the host of the 2026 NFL Draft (Commonwealth Media Services photo)

PITTSBURGH – Gov. Josh Shapiro joined local leaders in the Steel City on Thursday to celebrate the news that the city will host the 2026 NFL Draft. 

Shapiro, well-established as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, even went so far as to don a Steelers cap for the occasion. 

“In one of the many conversations we had with Commissioner [Roger] Goodell, he cited the view from Mount Washington as something that he was psyched about when thinking about the prospect of the NFL Draft coming here to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said Thursday. “And to Commissioner Goodell: I just want to apologize for being a pain in your ass over the last couple of years, constantly bugging you about this.” 

Steelers president Art Rooney II said the team was excited to host the draft for a number of reasons, among them “we think that Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania really are where the roots of pro football began.” He pointed to the Allegheny Athletics football team, who played on the city’s North Shore, and was one of the first teams to pay its players, although sometimes it did so under the table.

From 1965 to 2014, the  NFL held its players’ draft  in New York City, but began moving it to other cities again in 2015. Pittsburgh last hosted the draft in 1948 at the now-defunct Fort Pitt Hotel. Philadelphia most recently hosted the draft in 2017, and saw an estimated $94.9 million in economic impact to the city, according to a study commissioned by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. That figure was well beyond the anticipated $80 million impact.

Shapiro noted Pennsylvania is the only state to host the draft twice. “I mean no disrespect to Philly, I love Philly, but this is going to do even better in terms of numbers than Philadelphia,” he said. “I believe that this will be the largest event Pittsburgh has ever hosted, and we are ready. And I’ll tell you what, it comes at a really important time.”

He said he told Goodell that he wanted the draft to come to Pennsylvania in 2026 for the country’s 250th anniversary, when the Philadelphia region will play host to FIFA World Cup games,  the MLB All Star Game, the PGA championships and opening rounds of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.

Jerad Bachar, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh, said the NFL Draft could generate between $120 million and $165 million in economic impact for the region.

The draft, usually held at the end of April every year, will be held in 2026 on a stage outside the Steelers’ Acrisure Stadium on the city’s North Shore. It’s not yet clear how the region will pay for the preparations but Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said he visited Detroit in recent weeks to gather information about how that city handled this year’s draft. And Shapiro said the Steelers have not asked for public money from the commonwealth “at this point.” Rooney added that the local business community is “willing to step up and contribute to covering some of the costs of the draft as well.”

Gainey said he expects a million visitors to come to the Pittsburgh region for the draft, many of whom may have left the area but have fond memories of their time spent here.

“People remember the Immaculate Reception and Franco Harris,” he said. “People remember the time that John Stallworth caught the over-the-shoulder-catch against the Rams in the Super Bowl. They remember Lynn Swan and his acrobatic catch against the Cowboys. They remember James Harrison run the whole field for a touchdown against Arizona. We have so many memories that people hold dear to themselves, that no matter what city you go to, no matter where you’re at one thing that you’ll find is a Steelers bar or restaurant.”

The post Gov. Shapiro visits Pittsburgh to celebrate the city winning the 2026 NFL Draft appeared first on Pennsylvania Capital-Star.