ML - Michigan Avenue

2015 - Issue 2 - Late Spring

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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photography by heather talbert Touchdown Chicago ChiCago SportS CommiSSion exeCutive direCtor ara Bachman welComeS the nFl draFt baCk to the windy City. by dawn reiss It may be baseball season, but Chicago sports fans have football on the brain this month, as the 2015 NFL Draft comes to the Windy City for the first time since 1963. Long a staple of NYC's Radio City Music Hall, the draft arrives at the equally legendary Auditorium Theatre on April 30 and runs through May 2, complete with an outdoor festival in Grant Park and at Congress Plaza. As the executive director of the Chicago Sports Commission (a department of Choose Chicago), Kara Bachman was instrumental in sealing the deal. Gearing up for Draft Day, the 31-year-old chatted with Michigan Avenue about helping cement Chicago's status as a major player in the sporting world. How was Chicago able to close the draft deal? I think [the NFL] saw it as an opportunity to engage more fans and invite more fans. We welcome all NFL fans—yes, we love the Bears, but for us to take full advantage of the opportunity, [our attitude] was, "Let's get everybody here who wants to be here." We just emphasized that we wel- come everybody. How did you work with the city to make it happen? The mayor has been very involved, and [Chicago Bears Chairman George] McCaskey played a supportive role. I also worked closely with Bears President and CEO Ted Phillips and with Chris Hibbs, the team's vice president of sales and marketing, who is also on our board. Without their support, we wouldn't have been able to do this. What does it mean to have the draft in a landmark Chicago building like the Auditorium Theatre? It's impossible to talk about Chicago without mentioning its incredible architecture and history, and the Auditorium Theatre is a classic example. The fact that it is celebrating its 125th anniversary in conjunction with hosting the NFL Draft is truly a special occurrence. How is this draft going to be different? [We'll have] a free outdoor component [in Grant Park and Congress Plaza] and an indoor component [in the Auditorium Theatre], increasing the footprint of it so we can engage more fans. I think we will see it become a tour- ism event; I wouldn't be surprised if there are 30,000 people or more in Grant Park in a single day. There are 11 NFL teams within a 500-mile radius of Chicago; it makes it so easy to get here. What are you anticipating the tourism impact will be? All the people who watch the draft on TV will have a better understanding of Chicago. They'll see Buckingham Fountain with the lake, the beautiful landmark theater that we're going to be hosting our draft in, and [we'll have a] red carpet on Michigan Avenue on Thursday evening. You played Division I hockey at Colgate and are a noted sports fan. Why is getting the draft so exciting for you personally? For the Sports Commission, this is our biggest win, without a doubt—and I would argue it's one of Chicago's biggest wins as well. It's incredibly exciting to get to help deliver this experience. April 30–May 2 in Grant Park and at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., 800-982-2787; MA Kara Bachman, photographed at the Auditorium Theatre, where the 2015 NFL Draft kicks off April 30. 64 PEOPLE Thought Leader

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