Buffalo Bills plan to submit bid to host 2028 NFL draft at new stadium


Staff member

Recognizing the financial impact for the community and wanting to host a high-profile event at their new venue, the Buffalo Bills plan on bidding for the 2028 NFL draft, Pete Guelli, the team’s executive vice president and chief operating officer told The Buffalo News.

“We’ve seen the success and growth of the draft in other markets,” Guelli said. The draft “is the kind of opportunities we’re going to pursue as an organization, and we think the city of Buffalo would be absolutely perfect for this type of event.”

The new Highmark Stadium, under construction in Orchard Park across the street from the Bills’ current game-day home, is on schedule to open for the 2026 season.

The 2025 and 2026 drafts will be held in Green Bay and Pittsburgh, respectively. The 2027 draft site has not yet been awarded by the NFL.

The Bills expect the league to send out an “expression of interest” memorandum this summer to start the process. The three most recent draft sites – Detroit, Green Bay and Pittsburgh – were awarded the event about two years in advance.

“Our plan would be to express interest, and it’s competitive – there are no guarantees it will work out, but we want to go down that road,” said Guelli, who was hired as the Bills/Buffalo Sabres COO on March 19.

Construction crews work at the site of the Buffalo Bills' new stadium in early April. The team plans to bid to host the 2028 NFL draft. Joshua Bessex, Buffalo News
From 1965-2014, the draft was held in New York City. When Radio City Music Hall was booked in 2015, the league experimented by moving the draft to Chicago (Los Angeles was the other finalist), and an estimated 200,000 fans over three days attended the event at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre in downtown Chicago.

The NFL struck figurative gold with the idea and have held the draft in Chicago (twice), Philadelphia, suburban Dallas, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Kansas City and Detroit.

An estimated 775,000 people over three days attended this year’s NFL draft in Detroit. CARLOS OSORIO, ASSOCIATED PRESS
The draft dominated downtown Detroit in late April – city officials estimated 775,000 fans attended over three days, including a maximum of 275,000 for the first round, breaking the record of 600,000 set by Nashville in 2019.

The league has not charged admission to attend the draft or their Draft Experience, a festival-type event held throughout the three days.

In April, the consulting firm Anderson Economic Group projected a financial impact of $165 million for downtown Detroit, and officials said registered attendees came from all 50 states and 20 countries.

Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres Chief Operating Officer Pete Guelli says the Bills plan on bidding for the 2028 NFL draft. Joshua Bessex/Buffalo News

“The league is always trying to create platforms and turn (the sport) into a 365-day-a-year product, and they’ve turned the draft into something none of us could have anticipated,” Guelli said. “As soon as you saw how that model performed, it became pretty clear it was something they wanted to emulate in other areas.”

The Dallas Cowboys (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas) and Cleveland Browns (First Energy Stadium) have hosted the draft at their home stadiums, and the Bills would do the same.

“If you want to create a campus-type of environment, it would stand to reason that you would want to make (the new Bills stadium) the focal point,” Guelli said.

Green Bay Packers officials said the main portion of next year’s draft will take place at Lambeau Field and the nearby Titletown campus, and Pittsburgh expects to incorporate the Steelers’ Acrisure Stadium and Point State Park.