CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The NFL Draft could be coming to Northeast Ohio.
The Cleveland Browns, Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission teamed up and formally submitted a bid last week to host the 2019 or 2020 draft to coincide with the league’s 100th season in 2019 or centennial in 2020 after its establishment in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 20, 1920.
The announcement was made Thursday morning.
“Since even before the establishment of the NFL nearly 100 years ago and the legacies of household names like Jim Brown, Paul Brown, Otto Graham and Lou Groza, Northeast Ohio has been rooted in football and NFL history and has been dedicated to developing the sport we love at all levels of competition,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “With the support of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland and Canton are the ideal sites for the NFL Draft due to our region’s unmatched passion and respect for football, as well as our commitment to its future and the next generation of Hall of Fame players.”
The Hall of Fame, Browns, and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission have been working closely together for months to put their proposal together to host what is now a 3-day event with the first 2 days held in prime time and the entire weekend broadcast nationally on ESPN and NFL Network.
“We believe that Northeast Ohio is the perfect place to host the NFL Draft,” Greater Cleveland Sports Commission President and CEO David Gilbert said. “We can showcase the strength of our unique football history with the Cleveland Browns and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and we have proven time and time again that Greater Cleveland Sports Commission can align community partners to successfully host large scale sporting events.”
Since leaving Radio City Music Hall and New York City 3 years ago, the NFL has taken one of its biggest events of the year on the road. Chicago hosted in the draft 2015 and 2016 with Philadelphia hosting in 2017. The 2018 site has yet to be determined.
The Hall of Fame in Canton is in the midst of a massive transformation, with the first piece unveiled Thursday night – Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium – during the Hall of Fame game between Arizona and Dallas. Formerly known as Fawcett Stadium, the facility has been completely rebuilt into a 23,000 seat state-of-the-art venue and re-named in Benson’s honor after the Saints’ owner donated $11 million towards the project.
The neighborhood immediately surrounding the Hall of Fame is now gone and is being replaced by a 5-star hotel and several other attractions as part of a nearly $700 million project called Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village which is scheduled for completion by 2020.
“Northeast Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have long been a destination for football fans across the world who have supported our mission to Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence everywhere,” Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said. “The Hall of Fame is privileged to join the Cleveland Browns along with the leadership in Cleveland, Canton and throughout the region to create a draft experience unlike any other”