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Pittsburgh has been selected to host the 2026 NFL draft, the league announced at its spring meetings Wednesday, marking the first time the city will host the draft since December 19, 1947, for the 1948 NFL season. The 1948 NFL draft featured 300 total selections in 32 rounds at the now-razed Fort Pitt Hotel in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh Steelers plan to stage the 2026 NFL draft outside Acrisure Stadium on the North Shore of city

Steelers President and CEO Art Rooney II said the plan is to stage the draft outside Acrisure Stadium on the North Shore of the city.

“The roots of pro football really are deep in our region, and so we plan to celebrate really the history of football: the Dan Marinos, the Joe Montanas that came from our area,” Rooney said Wednesday.

The Steelers had submitted bids to be the hosts in 2026 and 2027. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had a phone call with Rooney, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, and state legislators on Wednesday morning to inform them of Pittsburgh’s winning bid.

“We think it’ll be the largest visitor event in the history of Pittsburgh, hosting hundreds of thousands of people and really football fans from all over the country — certainly Steelers Nation from all over the country,” Rooney said. “We just look forward to hosting that, and it’ll be an exciting time.”

The Steelers have been interested in hosting the NFL draft for the past several years, according to Rooney said. However, it wasn’t until Wednesday that their bid was finally successful.

Since the 2026 NFL draft will likely be held in April that year, one potential obstacle brought to Rooney’s attention is the weather. Hosting an outdoor event in Pittsburgh can be problematic with rain in the forecast.

“You have to be ready for the weather and be prepared,” he said. “Obviously if they could do it in Detroit and Green Bay, we can do it in Pittsburgh.”

Steelers’ 1974 draft class had five future Hall of Famers

More importantly, Rooney is grateful for the opportunity to host the NFL draft considering the organization has built a number of championship-caliber teams through the draft.

“This year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the greatest draft in [team] history, the 1974 Steelers draft, which produced five Hall of Famers,” Rooney said.

“We do have a great tradition with the draft in our organization and think that’s a great part of hosting the draft. We will be celebrating all things in terms of some of the great players that were raised in Pittsburgh and played their early parts of their careers in Pittsburgh and just celebrations of all the various roots and history of the game.”

In 1974, the Steelers drafted wide receiver Lynn Swann in the first round, linebacker Jack Lambert in the second round, wide receiver John Stallworth in the fourth, and center Mike Webster in the fifth. Pittsburgh signed safety Donnie Shell as an undrafted free agent as well.

All five would later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Green Bay is also slated to host the 2025 NFL draft.

Detroit set a record at the 2024 NFL draft with 775,000 fans in attendance

Detroit hosted this year’s draft last month. The Motor City set a record with more than 775,000 fans in attendance.

“I don’t think any of us envisioned that it would be as big as it is,” Goodell said of the growth of the draft. “I think Detroit was incredible. The passion of the fans, their enthusiasm for the event, it was just extraordinary is the best way to say it. … We were very successful in Radio City.

“It is the media market of the world, someone might dispute, but certainly we were in a really great position there, and it just turned out that the facility wasn’t available on a given year, and we said, ‘Now’s the time, let’s go.’ And I don’t think we’re looking back. I think we’re looking forward, including Pittsburgh.”

Pittsburgh will be the ninth NFL city to host the draft since it became nominated as a top host city in 2015. Since then, the draft has been held in Chicago, Philadelphia, Arlington, Nashville, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Kansas City, and Detroit.

The 2020 NFL draft was held at Goodell’s home via videoconferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.