BEREA, Ohio -- Three years ago, the National Football League took the show on the road and hosted their biggest offseason event, the NFL Draft, in Chicago, and have continued to open up the bidding process for their annual selection meeting. And the Cleveland Browns have entered the competition to host a future NFL Draft.
On Thursday, the Browns filed a joint application with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission to host either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft.
“I'm thrilled that Northeast Ohio submitted an application,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a Browns Fan Forum Thursday. “I haven't had a chance to look at it yet, but I'm sure it'll be great.
“We have 24 cities that are now bidding for the draft, so that's how it's grown in its popularity, and I think that's what's evolved to make it a better fan experience. 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.”
The 2019 draft coincides with the league’s 100th season, and the 2020 event will recognize the centennial of the establishment of the NFL in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 20, 1920.
“This area being the birthplace of pro football, and obviously, the way the draft has evolved where it really is a tremendous reflection on the community and the passion for football here, obviously, the depth of football on all levels, right down to youth football and sports in general, I think this would be a great community,” Goodell said.
Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam made the announcement in a press release Thursday, and they addressed it further at the Browns Fan Forum.
“The draft is more than a three-day event, and the economic benefit for the city of Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio is substantial, and Dee and I are committed to making sure that we have more events like that,” Jimmy Haslam said.
Dee Haslam added while joking with the commissioner, “We did a really good job on our submission.”
In recent years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has committed to making itself a must-see vacation destination for football fans with the expansion of their facilities to better honor the history of the game, including the renovation of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and the construction of a hotel.
Set to be completed in 2019, the $700 million renovation project will feature a holographic theater, the Black College Football Hall of Fame, a national youth sports complex, The Center for Excellence to grow a safer game, a Performance Center for multi-sport usage, as well as the Hall of Fame Hotel and Hall of Fame Promenade.
“The draft really has evolved, and it's because of the passion and the interest in it,” Goodell told the media following the Browns Fan Forum. “I think they each bring their own twist to it, their own flavor, and I think that's what's really made it so special for us in the couple years we've been moving it around.
“Cleveland, obviously, and Northeast Ohio, Canton, Ohio, it's the birthplace of football, and I believe that the passion here would be extraordinary, so I think it would be a great event.”