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Downtown Cleveland hotels see business booming ahead of NFL Draft

Destination Cleveland said hotel occupancy is expected to sit at 80-90% the week ahead of the draft and during the event.

CLEVELAND — The 2021 NFL Draft is seven days away, and excitement is filling the air in downtown Cleveland.

Downtown hotels are just one of the industries getting in on the excitement.

"We have a lot of people already checking in," Teri Agosta, general manager at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, told 3News.

When you look around downtown and at the draft setup (i.e. the helmets, the stage), it's hard to miss the clues of what will take place the last weekend of April.

"You'll be shocked at all the fans," Carole Sullivan, a former 3News reporter, said.

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For the first time in two years, fans will come together to celebrate new draft picks and fill hotel rooms across the city.

"We were sure six months ago what it was going to look like," Emily Lauer with Destination Cleveland said.

Lauer adds that, despite us still being in a pandemic, the number of visitors is expected to be in the thousands.

"We are going to have tens of thousands of people downtown every day, maybe up to 50,000 people," she claimed.

Sullivan now works in Nashville, where the last in-person draft was held in 2019.

"We had 600,000 people," she remembered. "It changed the way the draft was really done."

Fans flocked to Nashville for the event, and despite what people think, Sullivan expects Cleveland will see something similar.

"We were shocked at the numbers that showed up," she said. "I believe you will be secretly as shocked."

The hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit industries when the pandemic first struck, but hotels downtown are booming with business.

"We are definitely, mostly sold out," Agosta said.

A sign of not only the draft, but of business to follow.

"[It] actually demonstrates to people [that they can have] a meeting and have a social occasion safely," Agsota explained.

"This is hopefully a reboot, or kick start," Lauer added.

3News did some research and found that hotels downtown do still have a few rooms open. Destination Cleveland expects fans from not only the city itself but of nearby communities to make up a large portion of those who come. Agosta tells us people are already checking in, some of whom are the media, NFL staff and celebrities.

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