In August, a group led by the Cleveland Browns, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission submitted a bid to play host to the 2019 or 2020 NFL Drafts. Now, the region has come another step closer to being the home site for either years’ events, with the league announcing on Thursday that the Cleveland-Canton area is among the five finalists still under consideration.
The four other finalist cities are Nashville, Denver, Las Vegas and Kansas City. Those four, as well as the Cleveland-Canton crew, must submit final bids to the NFL in April; the final determination of the Drafts’ 2019 and 2020 hosts will then be announced during May’s league meetings.
The 2019 and 2020 seasons are big ones in terms of NFL history; 2019 marks the 100th NFL season, while 2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the league having established Canton as its home base. This makes the Cleveland-Canton area a no-brainer option for the NFL. It also helps that the Cleveland area has produced the highest ratings for NFL Draft viewing over the past four years and that Canton is home of the league’s Hall of Fame.
Browns executive vice president and chief financial officer Dave Jenkins said that, “Being selected as one of five finalists to host either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft in Cleveland and Canton is a great testament to our fans and the immense passion for football in Northeast Ohio. [Team owners] Dee, [and] Jimmy [Haslam] and our entire team are excited to move forward in the bid process with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, and hopefully, create another great opportunity to showcase our region throughout the NFL and the country.”
Meanwhile, the 2018 NFL Draft will be taking place from April 26 through 28 at AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas—the home of the Dallas Cowboys. While that is certainly a temple to the NFL’s modern-day excesses, sending the draft to the environs of the sport’s Hall of Fame in a centennial year would be a fitting celebration of the league and its roots. We’ll see if the NFL’s top brass concurs in a few months’ time.