Back in February, there were five cities vying to host the draft: Kansas City, Cleveland, Nashville, Las Vegas and Denver. With Tennessee picked for 2019, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has announced Vegas as the destination for 2020, with the events to be held at different locations along the Las Vegas strip.
This week-long celebration of football is usually held in New York, with the NFL only recently considering bids from cities to host. In the past 5 years, Chicago, Arlington, Dallas and Philadelphia have all hosted the draft. Vegas is the latest in a long line of major urban centers to be picked for the show.
Despite the obvious allure of Sin City, the NFL has a complicated relationship with Vegas. In 2015, the organization criticized and withdrew support for Tony Romo’s fantasy football convention, all because it was hosted on a property connected to a casino. The convention is now up and running in Dallas, but it’s strange to see the NFL pick a city that doesn’t share the organization’s values.
Of course, the decision is proving fairly popular. The draft ultimately is a party, a chance to scout talent, regrow teams and get excited about the newest members to the game – and Vegas knows how to party. “Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and will provide a tremendous experience for the NFL and its fans,” Mark Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders, put it.
Some are worried, however, that places like Nevada will turn the draft into an expensive variety show. As the NFL trots around the USA cherry picking the cities with most visibility, a lot of truly passionate football hubs have been overlooked. Kansas City, for example, has bid repeatedly and been touted as a future site. It was passed over again this year, likely because it doesn’t have the star power Vegas does – despite the franchise not being a mess like the Oakland.
The draft will also double as a housewarming for the Raiders, who received permission two years ago to relocate there. With their first preseason game slated for August of 2020, the outfit’s first event in the new stadium will be the April/May draft. The Nevada team will be front and center then, having traded Khalil Mack to the Bears for two first-round picks. They also have first-round picks in 2019 by trading Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. With a new stadium, city and fresh blood, this could be the start of something new for the Raiders. They desperately need it.