BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Northeast Ohio is on the clock.
In conjunction with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission the Browns submitted a bid to the NFL to host the 2019 or 2020 draft in Canton and Cleveland and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is looking forward to reviewing it.
“I’m thrilled that northeast Ohio submitted an application,” Goodell said during an hour-long question-and-answer session with 100 select Browns fans during his visit to the team’s facility Thursday.
Goodell hasn’t looked at the application, which was submitted last week, but Browns ownership feels good about the submission.
“We’re really excited and we think we’ve got a good shot,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said.
Goodell seemed to hint during the panel discussion that the drat will be coming to the birthplace of professional football.
“Walking out in Philadelphia and seeing close to 100,000 people out there, it was remarkable. So you guys are going to have to top that number,” Goodell said.
Northeast Ohio is facing a lot of competition for the event – a total of 24 cities are bidding to host future drafts, which have been held in Chicago and Philadelphia the last 3 years after leaving New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in 2014.
“I think they each bring their own twist to it, their own flavor and I think that’s what’s made it so special for us in the couple years we’ve been moving it around,” Goodell said. “Cleveland obviously, northeast Ohio, Canton Ohio, it’s the birthplace of football. I believe the passion here would be extraordinary so I think it would be a great event.”
Details of where events will be held and at which venues are still being worked out but there are a lot of options.
“We have a long way to go,” Browns owner Dee Haslam said. “Once we know we’re going to get it then you put together the whole plan, so that’s not finalized yet. Right now we’re just trying to get it, but we’ll see.”
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is in the midst of a $700 million renovation and expansion that includes a newly rebuilt 23,000-seat Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium plus a proposed new 5-10,000-seat arena, 4-star hotel and other attractions and amenities for fans to enjoy.
Canton serving as the birthplace of professional football will no doubt also carry significant weight.
The timetable for the entire project, which is expected to be completed by 2020, was set in motion with the idea of luring the NFL Draft and the subtext of league entrants beginning their career in Canton with the goal to end it in Canton.
“We’re working hard. We really did a really great job on the bid,” Dee Haslam said. “But the Commissioner said, there are 24 clubs bidding on it, but we feel confident. This is the birthplace and if we can talk, and authentic football, this is real football and I think we have a unique story to tell here and our fans are the type of fans that really will draw a lot of people to Northeast Ohio.”
The bid for 2019 coincides with the 100th NFL season as well as the league’s centennial celebration in 2020.
The Browns along with the Hall of Fame hope to celebrate the commissioner calling their name when announcing the winning bid.