Some Philly residents aren’t happy about extended NFL visit

 Pedestrian barricades in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Kim Paynter/WHYY)

Pedestrian barricades in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Kim Paynter/WHYY)

The National Football League draft won’t happen until the end of the month, but road closures begin Monday in areas near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  

Neighbors in the area are already upset.

About 150,000 visitors are expected for the three-day event as the entire Benjamin Franklin Parkway will host games, exhibits and free player autograph sessions.

The buildout will be massive with events beginning at 20th Street and going up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway right to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where a 3,000-seat amphitheater is being built at the top of the museum steps.  

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Stella Dahansky, who has lived in the Fairmount neighborhood for decades, said the inconvenience will be greater than when Pope Francis visited in September 2015.

“This is a prison sentence,” she said. “I can’t move my car for the next month.”

Asked for comment, Joseph Canuncio had plenty.

He said he’s frustrated by the constant events in the neighborhood.

“There is a walk, run, skip, ride, etc. almost every week. People clog up parking spots and the road closures,” he said. “Bigger events — like the NFL draft, pope, Made in America, etc. — are even worse on traffic, litter, crime.

“Only the Broad Street Run is away from the art museum, and has become my favorite event because of this,” he continued. “Why can the other parts of the city not share in all events? There are many historical parts of the city to see. And why is the NFL draft not down by the sports venues?”

The NFL was interested only in the art museum setting and wouldn’t consider any other spaces, Mayor Jim Kenney said.

Another resident is irritated that the draft from April 27 to April 29 will disrupt the Fairmount Sports Association schedule.

Andy Dennison said the youth baseball and softball league and its hundreds of kids will lose their fields for two weeks in a very limited season.

“No compensation, no heart. FSA is the real sporting event that deserves to be protected … as well as all residents of the area,” Dennison said.

“Aren’t we over being dupes for these corporate giants disrupting our community activities for their commercial gain and playing host to numbnuts from out of town?” he said. “We’re getting all NIMBY on this as events such as these really disrupt the quality of life for greater Center City.”

Kenney is asking residents to be patient.

“I recognize that the people who live on or around the Parkway are inconvenienced more than others, but  the value for this kind of exposure for the city is priceless,” he said.

“In developing the road closure plan, the city met repeatedly with the Parkway Council, the Logan Square Neighbors, Park Towne Place complex, and the Fairmount Civic Association,” said Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Kenney. “We remain in constant contact with reps from each of these organizations, as well as individual institutions, the Philadelphian and Park Towne Place via both email and phone.”

Other steps city officials are taking include:

providing key members of each of those organizations with a direct number to someone in the city command area to troubleshoot day-of issues;
generating laminated passes for all Park Towne Place residents that will be distributed for 22nd Street access during this, and all future Parkway events;
ordering portable restrooms for Logan Square neighbors and enlisting the help of L&I to limit public urination, illegal vending and other nuisance complaints. 

For more on traffic detours, parking restrictions, and what to expect through the end of the month, click through to our 2017 NFL Draft in Philly FAQ.

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