CLEVELAND (WJW) — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine says state health leaders have been working closely with the Cleveland Browns to ensure safety protocols are met during the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland.
During a recent press conference, DeWine shared that his chief of staff and the state health director are working with team owner Jimmy Haslam to create a safe event amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know the importance of this event is looked forward to by fans from all over the country and every team, so we’re working closely with them,” said DeWine.
The draft is set to begin April 29 and continue through May 1.
The draft and accompanying fan experiences will take place across a large footprint along North Coast Harbor, extending to the field inside FirstEnergy Stadium, to allow for social distancing.
“I want to be downtown. I want to be in the thick of things, you know? I want to be enjoying this because it’s really something rare,” said Gus Angelone, Browns superfan known as “Pumpkinhead.” Angelone is also president of Browns Backers “Pumpkin Nation”
He recalls attending the 2014 Draft in New York.
“It was just a huge thing and it was a lot of fun. To have it in our backyard and plan events and different things for the draft…it was something we’ve been looking forward to and you know, like I said, the pandemic, we don’t know what’s gonna happen,” he told FOX 8.
Angelone says fans are expecting things to look different this year.
“We were kinda hoping the pandemic would be on its way out by now and now I’m kind of nervous that things are gonna be impacted,” he shared. “I know years past, the draft has been our Super Bowl, so it’s not as important as it used to be…so what we will probably do is just have small get-togethers maybe.”
An NFL spokesperson released the following statement to FOX 8:
“We are in the process of finalizing plans for one of the most anticipated sports and entertainment events for fans in Cleveland as well as those watching around the world…all Draft activities will be in accordance with all local health protocols and guidelines.”
Previously, draft organizers told FOX 8 they are using lessons learned from the Super Bowl in Tampa to guide planning for the draft. The fan experience there was free but gated with timed ticketing to control crowd size.
“Lots and lots of people attended, and they were able to do it in a spaced and safe manner, and we expect the same thing here,” Greater Cleveland Sports Commission President and CEO David Gilbert said last month. “We feel really good about where it’s going.”
Gilbert also said that draft organizers intend to have as much of the event live and in-person as possible.