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Pittsburgh to host NFL Draft 2026: who decides where NFL Draft is held?

The annual mega-event returns to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the first time since 1948. The Steelers are set to play an active role in hosting.

Pittsburgh announced as NFL Draft 2026 host
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The league has announced that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be the host city for the 2026 NFL Draft. Pittsburgh, home to the seventh-oldest franchise in NFL history, has only hosted the event once before, back in 1948.

The NFL Draft is one of the biggest, most-anticipated sporting events of the year, and we’re thrilled to partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers and VisitPITTSBURGH for our 2026 event,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday, announcing the news.

“We have a unique opportunity to spotlight this wonderful community on a global stage, benefiting Pittsburgh’s economy and entertaining football fans from all markets. We know this pride of Pennsylvania will shine bright in 2026.”

How is the NFL Draft host city decided?

The three-day event will bring representatives from all 32 NFL teams as the top college football prospects prepare to make their first steps into the professional game.

The decision to award hosting duties to the city of Pittsburgh is the result of a vote by all 32 teams in the NFL. Cities interesting in hosting the NFL Draft much submit a bid and, once all applications are in, team owners will decide the location of the draft. As was the case for the 2026 draft, host cities are usually chosen two years in advance to give the necessary time to prepare for what has become a major global event.

The 2026 edition will see the NFL Draft return to Pennsylvania, where the very first draft was held in February 1936. That inaugural event was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia and remains the only time that the NFL Draft has featured nine rounds of picks.

“Pittsburgh is honoured to have been named the host city for the 2026 NFL Draft,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. “This once in a lifetime opportunity will allow us to showcase our city to an international audience, and it will give us a chance to say to our global fanbase, come on home to Pittsburgh.”