How changes in the college football schedule could impact the NFL draft in 2021

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The City of Cleveland still plans to host the NFL draft in 2021 but changes in the college football schedule could threaten the spring schedule, including the draft.

College conferences in recent weeks have been canceling their football seasons with some still hoping to be able to compete in the spring. Credible reports now question whether the changes in college football could have a ripple effect on the NFL.

“The industry that we represent, both travel and tourism, major events industries are really devastated and certainly it has had its effect on the Cleveland Sports Commission. We had ten national events scheduled to take place in Cleveland this year, seven were canceled,” said David Gilbert of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

Gilbert says the majority of the events that have canceled for 2020 are willing to work to reschedule those events and stay in Cleveland.

So far, any change in the Draft remains uncertain.

“We certainly are watching very closely with an eye on everything going on, including college football with an eye on the draft. Right now, we are in contact multiple times a week with the NFL. They have been tremendous partners and right now we are still planning on a live event, a large live draft in Cleveland at the end of April,” said Gilbert.

The city expects to host the draft, along with the Cleveland Browns, at locations that would include FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The NFL showed this year that it could successfully hold a virtual draft, but Gilbert says at the moment, the plans are moving forward for Cleveland to host a live event.

“No matter what happens, it will look different than Nashville, it’s not going to be elbow to elbow. We are not going to be at that point in the world and if changes in college football change, that we are going to be ready,” said Gilbert.

And, even if the date for the draft were to be changed, GIlbert says there is every reason to believe Cleveland would still be the host city.

“Until we know otherwise, absolutely that’s the case. You look at what happened (this year) in Vegas, we certainly don’t expect that but also nobody knows where the world is headed in the coming months, but it’s certainly not what we are expecting, not what the NFL is expecting to have anything other than a draft and a great draft held here in Cleveland in 2021.”

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