Northeast Ohio is one step closer to hosting the NFL Draft.
Cleveland-Canton is among the five finalists to host either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft, the league announced Thursday.
Denver, Kansas City, Nashville and Las Vegas are the other four finalists. Final bids will be due to the NFL in April, and the league will announce the winners at May's league meetings.
If selected by the NFL, Cleveland and Canton would welcome the three-day NFL Draft to Northeast Ohio and celebrate the league's 100th season in 2019 or centennial in 2020 after its establishment in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 20, 1920.
"Being selected as one of five finalists to host either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft in Cleveland and Canton is a great testament to our fans and the immense passion for football in Northeast Ohio," Browns Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer Dave Jenkins. "Dee, Jimmy and our entire team are excited to move forward in the bid process with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, and hopefully, create another great opportunity to showcase our region throughout the NFL and the country."
The Northeast Ohio bid to host the draft was submitted last August by the Browns, Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam believe Northeast Ohio is the perfect location for the draft because of the region's "unmatched passion and respect for football."
Canton and Cleveland came away with two of the first 11 NFL franchises in 1920, and from that point forward, football has remained a central theme in the cities' respective evolutions.
Cleveland has delivered the highest TV ratings for the draft in each of the past four years, and more than 10,000 fans packed the Muni Lot for the Browns' 2017 Draft Tailgate Party. Cleveland's sprawling outdoor malls provide roughly 780,000 feet of walkable, connected Downtown space, and the area is within driving distance of 13 other NFL cities.
Since 1963, Canton has been the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is set to unveil its biggest expansion yet with the $800 million Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village.