Plans for 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland still moving forward

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Plans are moving ahead for the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland.

In a press release from the City of Cleveland, the city writes, “The Draft continues to be planned in partnership with the NFL, Cleveland Browns, and City of Cleveland and will be a live event utilizing social distance guidelines and health & safety protocols.”

The event is expected to include FirstEnergy Stadium, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and other locations that make “Cleveland a destination city.”

The City says the NFL is expected to announce the Draft footprint in the first quarter of 2021.

The Draft is scheduled to be held on April 29 – May 1. It will be the 86th annual event.

Greater Cleveland Sports Commission President and CEO David Gilbert said the NFL is planning an outdoor event with a large footprint along the lakefront, near FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock Hall.

Gilbert says the draft will still be free and open to the public, but it will be gated, with time ticketing to limit capacity.

“We’ve certainly come to terms with the fact that it’s not going to be what we saw in Nashville two years ago,” Gilbert said. “But, we still think there’s a great opportunity to have an event tens of thousands of people come to, but not hundreds of thousands.”

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley said, if approved by council, the city will cover the estimated $750,000 to $1 million cost to demolish the two city-owned lakefront warehouses at North Coast Harbor, just north of the Stadium. Demolition could begin in early January and the land cleared for potential future development after the draft. 

“We’re going to do our part and clear this real estate so that can be part of the NFL Draft experience,” he said.

The 2020 Draft was a virtual event due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Although the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 is moving forward, it is not expected to be widely available before the spring.

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