‘Tens of thousands’ of football fans ready to descend upon Northeast Ohio

Pro Football Hall of Fame will be a must-see destination during April’s NFL Draft

David Gilbert

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Remember that party the NFL threw down in Nashville a couple of Aprils ago?

Well, the one we’re about to have here may not equal it in terms of numbers ... the pandemic prevents that ... but you can bet next month’s NFL Draft is going to be an incredible event.

“Obviously it’s not going to be what we saw in Nashville, with 100,000+ people shoulder to shoulder,” David Gilbert, head of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, told me in a zoom interview. “But we feel good. Certainly we know that it’s going to be a large, live Draft.”

Count on it. Every event the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission helps brings to town, pro or amateur, simply rocks. And “live” is the key. One year after a virtual Draft, the fans (not to mention the commissioner) will be back.

“Even though it will be a smaller number of fans than we might have thought when we were awarded the event, in a lot of ways it might be more impactful,” Gilbert said.

That’s because those fans will help to revitalize downtown. And they won’t just descend upon our town. There’s a certain football shrine just down the road in Canton that will play a big part.

“We know what the Draft has become,” Gilbert said. “It’s a large, free event. It’s become a pilgrimage of sorts for NFL fans. And if they’re going to be coming to Cleveland to see the Draft, they’re absolutely going to be headed an hour down the road to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

But it’s the city of Cleveland, and the Lake, that will be the stars of this show. And on full display for tens of millions of viewers.

“We know enough that this is going to be incredibly exciting for Cleveland, and I think for the nation,” Gilbert said. “As a big ‘coming out’ party in some ways for being, hopefully, a big celebration for getting to the ‘other side’ of this crazy year.”

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