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Ceremonial football makes its way from Detroit to Green Bay ahead of 2025 NFL Draft

The event is expected to bring an estimated $94M in economic impact to the state

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Governor Tony Evers receives a ceremonial football in Milwaukee on May, 14, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

On a cold spring day, a football traveled from Muskegon, Michigan across the choppy waters of Lake Michigan to Milwaukee. 

When it arrived, the next leg of its journey was made by bicycle, pedaled by several people 100 miles north to the land of green and gold. 

But this isn’t just any football — it’s an emblem of the passing of the NFL Draft from its last home in Detroit to its next home in Green Bay.

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Gov. Tony Evers was in Milwaukee Tuesday to receive the ceremonial ball from the captain of the ferry.

A handoff, if you will.

“I’ve said it before and I am obviously a bit biased, but I can think of no better place to host the NFL Draft than the great state of Wisconsin and Green Bay,” Evers said during a welcoming ceremony.

Bike riders carry a ceremonial football for the 2025 NFL Draft from Milwaukee to Green Bay on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

The 2025 NFL Draft will be held in and around Lambeau Field and the Titletown District in April 2025. The event is expected to bring an estimated $94 million in economic impact to the state.

Tuesday marked the official “hand off” of the draft to Wisconsin. It was also a nod to the Green Bay Packers’ tradition of players riding bicycles to practice before the start of the season. 

“We wanted to celebrate the draft transition from Michigan over to Wisconsin and bringing a football naturally makes sense, so we wanted to pedal to the draft from Milwaukee up to Green Bay, bringing the football up to Green Bay,” said Chris Cohorst, who works for the Packers.

Around 20 bicyclists from the Packers organization, Travel Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bike Fed and Green Bay area residents made the seven-hour journey. The riders stopped at prominent locations across southeast Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World, the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc and Ray Nitschke Field.

Once in Green Bay with the football, an official “Countdown Clock” was to be unveiled in the Lambeau Field Atrium. 

A woman holds the official “Handoff” football in a bag during a ride from Milwaukee to Green Bay on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

The cold weather didn’t seem to brother Cohorst or the other riders, many of whom chanted “Go Pack Go” as they rode throughout Milwaukee. 

“It’s an exciting time for Green Bay, it’s an exciting time for Wisconsin,” Cohorst said. “With the draft coming here, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be coming to visit Green Bay, so it’s a cool way to kick it off.” 

The 2024 NFL Draft broke the attendance record, as more than 775,000 fans were in downtown Detroit for the three-day event in April. It’s not clear if the 2025 NFL Draft will see those numbers, but the city and state are preparing for hundreds of thousands of football fans to descend on Titletown USA. 

“I am sure that Packers fans in Wisconsin will take that as a bit of a test to see whether or not we can grow the draft further, and raise the bar higher,” said Jeff Miller, the executive vice president of the NFL.

Packers fans wear player jerseys as they sit in Lambeau Field.
Fans watch the Green Bay Packers play the New Orleans Saints in a preseason game Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

After being held in New York City for 50 years, the draft has gone on the road in recent years, being hosted in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville and Arlington. Now, Green Bay — the smallest market in professional sports — will get its shot. 

Packers President Mark Murphy has said the draft will bring “more than six times the impact of one of our single games.” Speaking during the welcome ceremony Tuesday, he said it’s a chance for the city and state to shine in a global spotlight.

“It’s going to be a week-long commercial for Wisconsin,” Murphy said. “It’s really going to open a lot of eyes across the country and the world.”

More than 50  million viewers watched the 2024 draft on TV, according to the Associated Press. Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers said she believes the state is ready for an event of this magnitude.

“Wisconsin has shown that we can host big, big events,” Sayers said. “We had the Ryder Cup, we had the U.S. Senior Open, we’re about to host the RNC, and the Draft is the next step in that evolution and the whole state is going to pitch in.” 

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