NFL Draft Headed To Cleveland In 2021
Cleveland will host the 2021 NFL Draft, the annual selection of the top players in college football, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell annouced Wednesday.
Goodell also named Kansas City as the host for the 2023 draft. No announcement was made regarding 2022.
Cleveland's draft will follow Las Vegas, which will host the 2020 draft before the Raiders move from Oakland and begin playing in Nevada for the 2020 season.
The draft has proven to be a huge economict boon for cities that have hosted the three-day event. Nashville hosted the 2019 draft and reported $133 million in direct spending and an overall economic impact of $224 million.
Cleveland will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon with Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, David Gilbert of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and current and former Browns players.
A joint bid from Cleveland and Canton was rejected last year. This time, Cleveland elected for a solo bid.
According to the Browns web site, fans can look forward to "free celebrations at iconic downtown locations around FirstEnergy Stadium, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as on the shore of Lake Erie" for the 2021 draft.
"It hasn't been here before, so for it to come to Cleveland, that would be huge for the city," the Browns' Denzel Ward, a second year cornerback from Ohio State said. "Everybody should come out and just enjoy that process."
Between the 2016 Republican National Convention, this year's MBL All-Star Game and more, Cleveland has plenty of recent experience of pulling off big events, Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said.
"When we had the (NBA) Finals and the World Series I thought downtown was rocking," Bitonio said. "I think all the people came in and really saw how cool the city of Cleveland really is and the draft is a big three-day, big weekend party."
Bitonio also said it's fitting to have the draft in Northeast Ohio.
"We have truly diehard football fans in this part of the country and I think they'd come over from all over the Midwest, "but Ohio's a good base to be like 'Hey this is what football's about, kind of where football came from'," he said.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine released a statement shortly after the announcement was made.
"Ohio is the birthplace of professional football and the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I applaud the NFL's decision to hold the NFL Draft in Cleveland and give the Cleveland Browns and all of Ohio the opportunity to spotlight Ohio's professional football history and passionate fans.
"In hosting the MLB All-Star Game this July, the NFL Draft in 2021, and the NBA All-Star Game in 2022, three of the country's biggest professional sports leagues have each decided to showcase all that Cleveland has to offer, and I could not agree more."
In a statement, Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted suggested football fans make an extended trip around Northeast Ohio to celebrate the sport in 2021.
"Cleveland is a great choice for the NFL Draft. It has some of the best NFL fans in the nation and is right up the road from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton," Husted said. "You can see the history of the NFL and the future of the NFL all in one day."
The event has another historical tie for Cleveland and Browns fans: the franchise began play in 1946 and will be celebrating their 75th anniversary throughout 2021.