What happens if it rains for the NFL draft in Philly?

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It is too far out to tell how much, if any, rain Philadelphia will get when the 2017 NFL Draft comes to the Ben Franklin Parkway from April 27 to 29. But no matter what Mother Nature brings, organizers say they are prepared – and the public should be, too.

It’s April, and that means showers. Early projections call for some precipitation that weekend. But if gnarly football-season weather doesn’t keep fans away, why would a little rain?

“It’s a rain or shine event,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL senior vice president of events. Fans were not deterred at the 2016 draft in Chicago where it poured on the third day, he said.

The 2017 draft will be the first held entirely outdoors, taking place in a 3,000-seat theater constructed outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Our intent is not to disrupt the event for a minor weather issue,” said Dan Bradley, acting director at the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management. He suggests fans dress accordingly and bring small umbrellas. Larger four-foot umbrellas will not be allowed since they can obstruct views of other fans braving any inclement weather, he said.

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The office will be in constant touch with the Regional Integration Center, a 24/7 operation that monitors incoming weather, he said. In addition, there will be a mobile command post near Eakins Oval staffed with public safety and event managers.

“We are on a first-name basis with the National Weather Center,” Bradley said.

He said high winds and the potential for lightning, not rain, were the primary concerns. The wind could be a trigger to evacuate the venue, but that would only be prompted by high sustained winds, not just gusts, he said.

The city will also be prepared if the weather swings in the other direction and crowds are dealing with high temperatures. There will be hydration stations as well as two medical tents staffed by fire department and paramedics, Bradley said.

In the unlikely event the parkway needs to be evacuated, a message will be broadcast on the public address system, on the display screens and by text.

Bradley encourages attendees to register for ReadyPhiladelphia, the city’s emergency alert system. The notifications will give fans time to seek shelter from bad weather, he said.

“It may be sunny and they may not believe us but we encourage the public to take our word for it and err on the side of caution,” Bradley said.

As for the draft itself, the NFL organizers have backup plans in place but it would take a “significant weather event” to move, O’Reilley said. 

The fan festival NFL Draft Experience will fill the Parkway with events including a music stage, 40-yard dash and vertical jump, passing zones, field goal kicks and clinics, and a 100-yard zip line meant to be held outdoors. The NFL museum exhibits will already be under cover in a tent.

Also already under cover at the Franklin Institute, the 32 team tables will be set up in the front lobby. At that nerve center, calls will come in from the teams and then be relayed up to the Art Museum area where the pick will be confirmed by the commissioner who will then walk out on the state and make the announcement. The recruits, who are waiting in a separate area at the museum, will walk up the steps to the stage for hugs before heading off for interviews.

“At the end of the day, the core of the draft needs to continue onward,” said O’Reilly. “If we need to transition to another space we are ready for that.”

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