The league hopes a Cleveland event can take place in late April.
It appears the National Football League will be attempting to start the 2021 event part of the football calendar with its annual draft in Cleveland. This is a big year for the Cleveland Browns organization as the team is celebrating its 75th year although the team spent its first four years in the All America Football Conference and the city went without the team between 1996 and 1998 after Art Modell moved his Browns to Baltimore. A new Browns franchise started in 1999 although Modell left behind the Browns name, colors, logo and record book. The draft is a nothing event but manages to get a lot of interest in every NFL city and it makes money for the NFL with television and local event dollars going into the NFL owners’ pockets. But COVID-19 has not gone away and the NFL cannot afford to have large crowds in any area like the league did in Nashville in 2019. Last year’s Las Vegas event was wiped out because of COVID-19.
The NFL is working with the Cleveland Host Committee, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cleveland and Ohio officials, league medical personnel, and others to make sure the draft can occur as an attended event. Governor Mike DeWine is opening up Ohio and that could mean more people at the event. NFL draft events will take place around the Browns stadium and Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor area. On February 25th, DeWine announced that Ohio indoor entertainment venues can operate at 25% capacity, while outdoor events including Major League Baseball’s Cleveland and Cincinnati games are capped at 30% capacity. Mandatory masks and social distancing are required at venues. NFL teams have to submit a draft room plan to NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills by March 26th.
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