There has never been a more exciting time to be an Eagles fan, or for that matter, a Philadelphian. The victories and celebrations of the last week have provided yet another opportunity for our city to shine. Around this time last year, the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) and its PHL Sports division, and numerous other organizations and city agencies were busy planning what would eventually become the largest, most attended NFL draft in history. This game-changing event energized the iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, set the tone for an amazing year ahead, and placed our city and its sports fans on a national and international stage.
Now, less than a year later, the 2017-18 NFL season is ending exactly the way it started – in Philadelphia, with an amazing event on the Parkway. Little did we know that the draft would serve as the first leg of an incredible football journey filled with bouts of adversity and incredible tenacity from a team whose success is now forever etched in Philadelphia history. Jeffrey Lurie, Don Smolenski, Doug Pederson, and the entire Eagles organization deserve our gratitude and stand as a perfect example of the true spirit of this city.
Philadelphia has had an incredible run of high-profile events, including the 2015 World Meeting of Families, which brought Pope Francis for his first U.S. visit; the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which infused over $230 million into the regional economy and attracted 54,000 visitors; and the 2017 NFL draft, which had record-breaking attendance of 250,000 and an estimated economic impact of over $94 million.
These events give our city the cache and credibility we all know Philadelphia deserves, while at the same time, providing exponential economic benefits. While Philadelphia has earned the reputation as a city that can successfully host any large-scale event, we understand that at times it can be challenging living in a high-traffic, popular destination city. Philadelphia’s convenient location, accessibility, and destination assets are major selling points to meeting and event planners, but we know that we wouldn’t be who or where we are without you, our residents. Your patience, your support, and your willingness to welcome and accommodate our visitors serve as the backbone of a healthy and thriving tourism industry.
A major part of Philadelphia’s identity is the passionate fans who call our city home. It is because of you that we are able to continue attracting these major events and opportunities each year. While those on the outside might not always understand us, they certainly can’t deny the unparalleled energy and enthusiasm we are capable of generating.
So, in addition to saying thank you to our partners who’ve made all of this possible, including the Philadelphia Eagles, Visit Philadelphia, and the countless city agencies that work to ensure our city is safe and navigable, we want to say thank you to our residents. Thank you for being unyieldingly passionate about your city and your team, unwavering in the face of adversity, and unrelenting in your conviction that this is, in fact, OUR season and OUR year. Just as we helped the country kick off the 2017 NFL season on the Parkway, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of you closed out the season in the same place where it all began – the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This past week will stand on record as one of the greatest in Philadelphia’s history. Thursday’s epic parade provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate our city, our fans, our Philadelphia Eagles and our Super Bowl LII victory. We know you enjoyed it even more than we did. Fly, Philly, Fly!
Jim Kenney is Philadelphia’s mayor. Julie Coker Graham is president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.