The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission isn’t letting concern and respect for fighting the novel coronavirus dampen enthusiasm for Cleveland hosting the NFL draft later this month.
Construction of the main staging theater for the draft, which will stand 90 feet high when completed, began April 7 at the North Coast Harbor site at 515 Erieside Drive, north of the Great Lakes Science Center and northeast of FirstEnergy Stadium. The 2021 draft is set for April 29-May 1.
Cleveland began bidding to host the draft in 2016. When the NFL approved the bid in May 2019, city officials had visions of 150,000 fans packing the staging area, just as that number of football crazies from around the country shoehorned themselves onto Broadway in downtown Nashville for the 2019 draft. It was a spectacular sight on television and a great commercial for Nashville and the NFL.
A lot has changed since then. Las Vegas was scheduled to host the 2020 NFL draft, but at that point the COVID-19 pandemic had been around only two months. Much of the country was on stay-at-home orders. The NFL nixed its Las Vegas plans and held the draft virtually.
With the pandemic lingering, plans for Cleveland as draft host are full-steam ahead — or almost full-steam.
“We’re very excited to be here,” Mike Muhall, vice president of Business Development for Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, said during a news conference with construction beginning behind him. “This was…