The NFL Draft will not be taking place in Las Vegas next month, with a report claiming that the league will move out of Sin City and into studio amid growing restrictions and closures from the coronavirus.
As the Los Angeles Times reported, the league has canceled plans to hold the draft in Las Vegas, the new home of the former Oakland Raiders. The event had been scheduled for the Bellagio Hotel from April 23 through 25, and reportedly said that the league is now ironing out details on how it will be held.
“The NFL is not commenting publicly about what’s in the works, but according to two individuals with knowledge of the discussions, the current plans call for some type of studio setting with cut-ins from the headquarters of the teams making the selection at a given time,” the report noted.
The league had been sending signals that big changes were coming, with Commissioner Roger Goodell sending a memo to all league employees this week saying that they would need to “think differently” on how to hold the draft. Goodell said the new draft would rely more on technology and collaboration between teams.
CBS Sports reported that it could be a more pared-down affair, free from the television-friendly frills that had been added in recent years. The broadcast could include shots of each team’s war room, showing a more insider look at how the draft is conducted.
The new NFL season and free agency started this week, though there had been some rumors that it could be put off amid the coronavirus crisis. The spread of the virus forced both the NBA and NHL to suspend their seasons and the MLB to announce that the start of the baseball season would be pushed back indefinitely. With offseason practices not starting for several more weeks, the NFL had more time to prepare for how it would need to adjust events that call for a number of people to be gathered together.
Many states have already cracked down on large events, ordering non-essential businesses to close and banning any public gatherings. Las Vegas had essentially shut down, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that 92 percent of the city’s casinos had closed down in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
With no clarity on when casinos and hotels in Las Vegas could reopen, there was no guarantee that the NFL Draft could even be held during the time it had originally been scheduled.