In a fashion befitting of Sin City’s reputation for glitz and grandeur, the 2020 NFL Draft isn’t just being held near the Bellagio on the Strip. It’s taking place on the MGM Resorts International property’s famed fountains.
NFL executives met with the Clark County Commission today, laying out plans for the April draft that include a red carpet stage on the Bellagio fountains. Players hearing their names called by Commissioner Roger Goodell will be boated to the stage. The league’s grandiose plans for the upcoming draft needed to be approved the Clark County Commission because that government body has jurisdiction over the Strip, an unincorporated part of Las Vegas.
Prior to 2014, the draft was annually held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. But the league has shifted it around to its various cities over the past several years as a way of increasing fan engagement. Data suggests that move is paying off, and that could mean positive benefits for Las Vegas.
I can accurately report to you that 600,000 people took to the streets over three days in Nashville, Tennessee,” said John Barker, vice president of life events for the NFL, to the commission. “I can tell you that 50 percent of those fans came from out of town. I can tell you that there was $224 million in economic impact and $130 million in direct spending.”
Nashville, home of the Tennessee Titans, hosted the draft last year.
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Because it’s Las Vegas, this year’s iteration of the NFL Draft is expected to lure significantly more fans, by some estimates 750,000, than previous events in Nashville and Philadelphia, among others.
With the arrival of the Raiders, Sin City is now an NFL town, and the Los Angeles and Phoenix markets – home to three of the leagues other 31 franchises – are short flights and reasonable drives to Las Vegas. In a recent visit to Nevada’s largest city, Goodell said he expects the economic boon from this year’s draft will exceed the numbers generated in 2019 in Nashville, and that Las Vegas is well-positioned to be a Super Bowl city in the future.
In presentations to the commission, NFL executives showed sketches of plans for the fan experience, which include a draft theater and viewing section. That will be held adjacent to Caesars Forum.
“The Las Vegas Strip would be closed in front of the Bellagio, with Flamingo also closed from the Strip to Koval Lane, among other closures and restrictions, reports 3 News, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the league’s draft plans.
The stage required for the NFL festivities will the largest ever built on Bellagio’s fountains. MGM recently sold the property to Blackstone for $4.25 billion, but the gaming company continues to run day-to-day operations at the venue.
Flamingo Avenue is also playing a crucial role in the event’s logistics, with Barket calling it “the artery of the draft.”
After each NFL prospect leaves the Bellagio red carpet, he’ll be part of a processional down Flamingo Avenue designed to give fans “an up close and personal look” at the new players.
The draft starts on Thursday, April 23 and runs through Saturday, April 25, with the Cincinnati Bengals holding the first pick. There are 224 picks over seven rounds in the draft, and it isn’t immediately clear if prospects drafted in later stages will be treated to Bellagio fountain boat privileges.