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Chicago Park District waived rental fee for NFL Draft Town

Entrance to NFL Draft Town at Grant Park in Chicago in April. File Photo. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media

The Chicago Park District waived a hefty park rental fee for the NFL to use Grant Park during for its elaborate Draft Town three-day event last month.

The park district on Wednesday revealed it entered into a partnership agreement with the NFL, waiving a $937,500 fee because the event was a “public benefit.”

The fee is also waived for city events such as Taste of Chicago, Blues Fest, the Air and Water Show, the Bud Billiken Parade, the Puerto Rican festival, among other events.

“In this case, the Park District entered into a partnership agreement with the NFL for the Draft Town event because the event offered free programming and served as a benefit to the city of Chicago,” park district spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said.

The park district noted the event was a huge draw and was free. The NFL typically charges $35 per adult and $20 per child to enter and attend NFL Experiences, the interactive fan portion of the event.

“As a condition of our partnership, this experience was free to all visitors. With Draft Town being free, Chicagoans, visitors, NFL fans and others experienced a highly sought-after and valued opportunity at no cost,” Maxey-Faulkner said.

The NFL Draft returned to Chicago last month for the first time in 51 years. The interactive event included a skydive simulator, player appearances and other football activities.

The park district responded to questions about the fee Wednesday afternoon following a Chicago Tribune investigation.