2020 NFL Draft going full Vegas: Players to use boats, stage will be over water, Bellagio fountains involved
No city in the world knows how to host a big event quite like Las Vegas, and the NFL is definitely planning to take advantage of that fact when the draft rolls into Sin City in just three months.
After attracting more than 600,00 visitors to Nashville for the 2019 draft, the NFL has one-upped itself with a plan that includes one stage being set up over water, players being chauffeured around on boats and one block of the strip being totally shut down to vehicle traffic over the course of the three-day event, which runs from April 23 thru 25.
Let’s start with the craziest part of the NFL’s plan: The red carpet stage, which will be set up over water in front of the Bellagio fountains. Any player who attends the draft and chooses to walk the red carpet will be taken by boat to the main stage.
Here’s what that set up will look like.
Will players have to wear life jackets? What happens if they fall out of the boat? What if they can’t swim? There are so many questions, and hopefully none of them get answered so that this ends up being as confusing as possible come April.
Here’s an aerial view of the set up of the red carpet stage.
The red carpet is where each prospect will be interviewed before the start of the draft.
Although the red carpet stage will be set up over water, the main draft stage won’t be quite as crazy. That stage will be constructed next to the Caesars Forum. The forum is a brand new $375 million conference center, which is located near the High Roller ferris wheel. Both the forum and the ferris wheel are located directly behind the LINQ hotel.
The large white tent in the image above is where the main draft stage will be, meaning that’s the area will Roger Goodell will be announcing picks. The forum will be the home of selection square, which is where all 32 teams will be set up.
Here’s what the area behind the High Roller looked like in December.
At the time, it was basically a large parking lot, but the NFL will obviously be making a lot of changes between now and April.
According to Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and league events, it was important to feature as many iconic Vegas landmarks as possible in the draft set up.
“Embracing the city’s personality and iconic locations enables us to create an event that captures the spirit and energy of our hosts,” O’Reilly said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Raiders, Las Vegas officials and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to create an unforgettable week-long celebration of football for our fans, the incoming prospects and partners and kick off the NFL’s next 100 years.”
To make this all work, Vegas will be doing something it almost never does: Closing off a portion of the famed strip. The part of the strip located in front of the Bellagio will be closed to vehicle traffic during all three days of the draft. Flamingo Road will also be closed between the strip and Koval Lane, which will allow fans to freely walk from the red carpet stage to the main event space near the forum.
The draft will kickoff on April 23 with the first round. The next two rounds of the draft will be held on April 24 with the final four rounds being held on April 25.
If you’re planning to attend the draft his year, just remember that what happens in Vegas that week definitely will not be staying in Vegas.