Nashville emerges as leading contender to host 2019 NFL draft

Nashville, Tennessee, has emerged as the leading contender to host the 2019 NFL draft, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday.

A decision is expected to be announced during the league's spring meeting May 22-23 in Atlanta.

In the unlikely event that Nashville were to lose out on the 2019 draft, the city would be in prime position to then host the 2020 event, sources told ESPN.

The other cities being considered as the potential host sites for the 2019 and 2020 NFL drafts are Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City and a combination bid from Cleveland/Canton, Ohio.

Butch Spyridon, the president and CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp., told ESPN's Cameron Wolfe on Wednesday that the city encouraged the NFL to use the Ascend Amphitheater for the draft theater, Nissan Stadium (home of the Tennessee Titans) and its parking lots for the fan experience, and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center for the Titans' war room.

Spyridon suggested that Broadway Street and First Avenue -- which is full of honky-tonks and includes nearby Bridgestone Arena -- be a big part of draft weekend as well. He also presented the Music City Center convention hall as a potential option.

Ultimately, the NFL will create its own event based on the potential locations provided.

Officials were told the NFL wants the draft to take on the personality of the host city, and that's when Nashville's representatives felt their chances improved dramatically because of the city's music-centric, party vibe.

Spyridon said Nashville's slight preference was to host the 2020 draft because of minor logistics, but the organizing group has the flexibility and desire to host the 2019 draft if that is the NFL's choice.

Spyridon said he was "cautiously optimistic" that Nashville would land the draft, putting odds at much better than 50-50.

"If we can embrace it Nashville style, we got a shot," Spyridon said. "It'd be a big party. You'd know you were in Nashville. I promise they wouldn't be disappointed."

The first televised draft was broadcast by ESPN in 1980, but it wasn't a fan event until 1995, when the league moved it to Madison Square Garden in New York.

After a nine-year run at Radio City Music Hall in New York ended in 2014, the draft has been held in Chicago (2015-16), Philadelphia (2017) and Arlington, Texas (2018).

This year's event at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, was the first to be held inside an NFL stadium.