Press release provided by Greater Cleveland Sports Commission
Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Destination Cleveland and the Cleveland Browns today announced the 86th NFL Draft will be held April 29 - May 1, 2021 in Downtown Cleveland. The event will bring NFL fans together at iconic locations around FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to celebrate the game of football and show the world what makes Cleveland a destination city.
"We're excited for Cleveland to 'Rock The Clock' as the host of next year's NFL Draft and NFL Draft Experience – assuming large gatherings can take place without compromising the well-being of participants," said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland.
"We, along with our partners at the NFL, the Cleveland Browns and the City of Cleveland, are steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all spectators and participants. We're working tirelessly to make this the best Draft event yet – for the NFL and its fans as well as for the Cleveland community."
"The NFL Draft is an international celebration for our entire league and all sports fans, and we look forward to hosting the event, highlighting our city and continuing to share Northeast Ohio's passion for football in 2021," said Dave Jenkins, Cleveland Browns Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "Throughout the process, our local partnership and the NFL have focused on providing an exceptional experience for everyone in Cleveland, and prioritizing everyone's safety and well-being is always a core component to achieving that goal, no matter the event or circumstance."
"We successfully brought to life the first virtual NFL Draft last week, and we are now very excited to work with Cleveland to incorporate some of the innovations and special access from 2020 into our planning for 2021," said Peter O'Reilly, NFL executive vice president of Club Business & League Events. "We look forward to partnering with the Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to create a memorable celebration of football for such a passionate fan base and community."
The NFL officially awarded Cleveland the 2021 NFL Draft in May 2019 during the annual Spring League Meeting in Key Biscayne, Fla., following a review of the proposal by the Fan Engagement & Major Events Advisory Committee and full NFL ownership.
As part of this event, the NFL Draft Experience, a free football festival, will encourage NFL fans to test their football skills and enjoy interactive exhibits and autograph sessions, as well as take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. This experience will be open all three days of the event.
The Cleveland Browns, who played their inaugural season in 1946, will also be celebrating their 75th anniversary throughout 2021.
In addition to the 2021 NFL Draft, Cleveland is preparing to host the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend and 2024 NCAA Women's Final Four. These events, combined with the 2019 MLB All-Star Game, represent the four largest sporting events that Cleveland can host.
The 2020 NFL Draft was broadcast over three days and attracted more than 55 million total viewers, a 35 percent increase over 2019, across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, and digital channels.
Additionally, Round 1 of the NFL Draft's television viewership peaked at 19.6 million viewers with Ohio cities comprising all three top spots for local market TV ratings: Columbus (16.7), Cleveland (15.9) and Cincinnati (15.6). The three Ohio cities made it to the top 10 metered markets across all networks for the seven rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.