CLEVELAND (WJW/AP) — This year’s edition of the NFL Draft will be held in Cleveland and include a free fan event.
The 86th annual NFL Draft will take place April 29-May 1 across from locations like FirstEnergy Stadium, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center. Most of the events are outdoors.
The event will follow COVID protocols, according to a news release, with some prospects taking the stage in Cleveland while others will participate remotely from their homes.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be on hand to welcome the league’s newest players — but from a short distance. Building on the success of last year’s virtual event, when the commissioner read players’ names from the basement of his home, other draft picks will participate remotely from around the country.
The league said the three-day event will be open to the public, and protocols from the experiences of hosting the Super Bowl in Tampa will be in place.
The league will again partner with state and local public health officials to ensure the safety for fans and participants. Fans will be required to wear face coverings and adhere to physical distancing.
A main stage will be built along Lake Erie to serve as the central hub for draft activities, including unnamed musical acts.
“We are thrilled to be heading to Cleveland for the NFL Draft, which has become one of the most highly anticipated events in sports” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President, Club Business & League Events. “Just months after executing a safe and successful Super Bowl LV, we look forward to bringing the excitement of our Draft traditions to fans in collaboration with the Browns, Destination Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the City of Cleveland, and all of our local Cleveland partners.”
The NFL will also use this year’s draft to promote the COVID-19 vaccine.
This year’s draft coincides with the the Cleveland Browns’ 75th anniversary.
“We are thrilled for Cleveland to host this year’s NFL Draft and celebrate the hard-working and inspiring new Draft prospects, football’s great history, and our fans. It is even more special as we commemorate our 75th anniversary and have the opportunity to showcase the wonderful city of Cleveland to an international audience and to a responsible number of fans and visitors during the weekend,” said Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Managing and Principal Partners of the Cleveland Browns. “We greatly appreciate the continued collaboration by the NFL, local and state government officials and medical experts who are all focused on creating a memorable and safe experience and we are also extremely encouraged by the state of Ohio’s vaccination rates and advancements that are allowing us to make the progress needed to return to a safe and more normal environment.”