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NFL reps tour Northeast Ohio as part of region’s bid to host 2019, 2020 NFL Drafts

The latest development is yet another of the league’s required hurdles the finalist cities need to clear.

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been over seven months since the Cleveland Browns, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commissioned teamed up to entice the NFL to bring the 2019 and/or 2012 NFL Drafts to Northeastern Ohio. In February, the region was selected as one of five finalists; that required the group to submit final bids later in April, and also meant that league representatives would be coming to the region to tour facilities as part of the decision-making process.

The visit took place on Thursday, beginning at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. FOX 8’s Dave Nethers reported that the Hall “invited dozens of supporters and football fans to Tom Benson Stadium for a surprise welcome for the delegation; those in the crowd chanted ‘welcome home.’” NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” showed some of the event:

Hall of Fame president David Baker spoke briefly to the assembled crowd and the NFL representatives, making his case for why the Cleveland-Canton region should be the first choice for the Draft. “We guard the history of the game right here... When we have this draft it will be the beginning in 2019 of the 100th season for the NFL,” said Baker. He continued:

”There’s only one place where the game began and there’s only one place where that hundredth season can be celebrated: right here in Canton along with our partners, the Cleveland Browns.”

Browns team representatives joined those from Canton and Cleveland in showing the NFL group around the region. And while the Hall of Fame Village project will not be completed in time for next year’s draft, Baker believes that won’t be a problem, citing Cleveland’s ability to handle the crowds for the Cleveland Cavaliers championship parade as well as the region hosting upwards of 700,000 people during the week of the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies. Last year’s draft, held in Philadelphia, drew 250,000 attendees.

Las Vegas, Nashville, Denver and Kansas City are Northeastern Ohio’s competition for the event. The league is expected to make its final decision in May.