The 2020 NFL Draft was scheduled to take place in Las Vegas and, as you might expect, the pageantry associated with the city was expected to be outlandish. In fact, there were plans to transport draftees, via boat, to the stage in the midst of the Bellagio fountains and the league planned to accommodate a massive crowd for the draft itself. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted plans for virtually everything in the sports world, however, and to the surprise of no one the NFL announced on Monday that the public-facing events for the 2020 NFL Draft would be cancelled.
It should be noted, however, that the league plans to hold the draft at the same time, from April 23 through 25, and that the draft will still be televised. In addition, the NFL notes that they are “exploring innovative options for how the process will be conducted,” while leaving the details for a later date. It will not, however, take place in Las Vegas according to Arash Markari of the Los Angeles Times.
Las Vegas will not host the NFL Draft this year but expect it to be named the host in 2022 (2021 is in Cleveland and 2023 is in Kansas City). It will also be a leading candidate to host the 2021 Pro Bowl and the 2025 Super Bowl.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 16, 2020
“This decision reflects our foremost priority — the health and safety of all fans and citizens,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the official announcement. “While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the city of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft, as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl.”
As Goodell notes, the Las Vegas Raiders are also impacted by this change and Raiders owner Mark Davis also released an official statement.
“After careful consideration, the Las Vegas Raiders, the NFL, the NFLPA and the LVCVA have decided to cancel the 2020 Las Vegas NFL Draft celebration,” Davis said. “Health and safety has always been our top priority, so despite it being a major disappointment, this was the right decision. I would like to thank Governor Sisolak and the LVCVA for all of the passion they put into creating an event that would have been second to none. Although Las Vegas lost this chance to shine, there will be many more opportunities to show the world just what Las Vegas is made of. Whether it be the Draft, the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl, the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World is ready!”
It will be interesting to see how the NFL chooses to proceed with the selection process itself and, if the event is indeed televised, it could provide valuable entertainment for many sports fans. Still, the cancellation of public events is a no-brainer in this instance and, while the draft may return to Las Vegas in the future, it won’t be happening in 2020.