81°F
weather icon Clear

2020 NFL Draft ‘dream’ is stage over Las Vegas Strip fountains

Updated July 12, 2019 - 12:48 pm

Announcing draft picks from a stage built over the Fountains of Bellagio to a mass of fans packed onto the Strip is part of the “dream scenario” for organizers plotting the 2020 NFL draft in Las Vegas in April.

The dream also includes shutting down Las Vegas Boulevard from Spring Mountain Road to Harmon Avenue for parts of three days and hosting Draft Town, an area featuring interactive exhibits, player autograph sessions, live music and more, at The Linq Hotel.

Almost 1,500 pages of documents obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal revealed the possible plans for what has become a highly anticipated annual event — and one that cities eagerly compete for the opportunity to host. This year’s NFL draft was held in Nashville, where the stage was located outdoors on one of the city’s main drags, and drew an estimated 600,000 fans for the three-day event.

The documents and emails detail what the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, R&R Partners, the marketing and communications group contracted by the LVCVA, and Oakland Raiders’ brass presented to the NFL in their pitch that landed the 2020 NFL draft. Officials have yet to say where in Las Vegas the draft will be staged, though the pitch outlines several possibilities.

“No decisions (on the location) have been announced yet,” LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said this week.

Though a stage over the Bellagio Fountains is considered the ideal situation for the 2020 draft, organizers were skeptical that the dream could turn into a reality.

In an Aug. 2, 2018, email to Lisa Motley, director of sports marketing and special events at the LVCVA, and Rob Dondero, executive vice president of R&R Partners, Raiders Vice President Brandon Doll said the “dream scenario” of shutting down the Strip “would be incredible,” but he’s not getting his hopes up.

Motley agreed, saying “(The) three day shutdown is probably not realistic, unless we could have a rolling shutdown.”

Despite the early skepticism, an email in November from Michelle Mader of R&R Partners to Hill, Dondero and Michon Martin of R&R Partners noted that work was underway to receive permission from Clark County for the Bellagio fountain plan.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said he wasn’t aware of such permission being granted yet.

In a statement, MGM Resorts International, owner of the Bellagio, said: “We can’t confirm anything at this time but certainly would be thrilled with the opportunity to work with the league and the city if the Fountains of Bellagio are selected as a draft venue.”

Tier 1 and Tier 2 sites

If the dream scenario falls through, the LVCVA worked with MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment to compile six site possibilities to stage rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the draft.

The suggested sites were broken up into Tier 1 and Tier 2 sites, not including the Bellagio option.

■ Tier 1 included the Linq, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts and T-Mobile Arena/Toshiba Plaza/Park Theater.

■ Tier 2 included the Thomas &Mack Center and the Sands Expo Hall and Convention Center.

T-Mobile Arena was pegged as the favored site for Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the draft.

Of note, the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, site of the Route 91 Harvest festival, was part of the initial Tier 2 list but was removed after the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting.

Though the Smith Center was included in the list of possible draft sites, Myron Martin, CEO and president of the performing arts center, said he has yet to have contact with parties involved in the event’s planning.

“The Smith Center would be pleased to host the NFL draft, and I am thrilled to hear that our world-class center might be under consideration,” Martin said. “However, we have not heard from the NFL at this point.”

Also included in the pitch were 33 sites and celebrities associated with them that could be incorporated into draft selections. Those include:

■ The Colosseum with Celine Dion and Elton John.

■ The Golden Knights practice facility featuring players.

■ Planet Hollywood with the Backstreet Boys, Pitbull or Jennifer Lopez.

■ Cirque du Soleil characters from various properties on the Strip.

■ “Pawn Stars.”

Also proposed were unique ways to unveil some draft picks, such as skyjumping from the Strat; behind the scenes of the Bellagio Fountains where water could dance (assuming the draft isn’t staged there); displaying a pick on the Wynn Las Vegas marquee; or having a presenter step out of a High Roller pod at the Linq with a pick.

Hotel rooms

Regardless of where the event is staged, Las Vegas will need to provide a bevy of hotel rooms to house the small army of people needed to carry out the NFL draft. To that end, tourism officials reached out to representatives at several resort properties to gauge their availability to block off rooms for the draft.

“This should be treated as a citywide block for a convention,” said Chris Meyer, vice president of sales for the LVCVA, in a March 2018 email exchange with Joni Peru, former executive director of sales for the Palms who now works for MGM Resorts.

A spreadsheet prepared by R&R Partners in March 2018 says 7,569 hotel rooms would be needed in varying amounts over about a three-week period, though two days — a Saturday and a Sunday before the draft — were mistakenly left out of the table, according to the emails. Aside from team personnel, staff and vendors, rooms would be needed for NFL media, media executives, legends, prospects, VIPs and more.

The first 10 rooms would be needed for staff, vendors and team personnel 19 days before the draft weekend, according to the report.

At peak, 1,515 rooms would be needed for the Thursday the draft begins. Over the three-day event, 3,440 rooms would be needed to house the various people associated with the draft and festivities surrounding it.

Las Vegas also is well equipped to accommodate the mass of fans expected to attend the draft, as the city has 147,238 hotel rooms, according to LVCVA data. In comparison, the Nashville area has an estimated 42,000 room, according to the Tennessean newspaper.

The Nashville draft broke the attendance record for the event, seeing over 600,000 fans during the three-day draft. Expecting similar numbers next year, Las Vegas resorts already have dramatically increased room rates for April 23-25, 2020.

Wynn, Encore, the Palms, the Linq, Bally’s, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood Resort, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and some MGM Resorts properties (not specifically mentioned in the emails) would be included among the resorts that would host the people associated with the NFL draft.

As of Monday morning, the average room rate of the host hotels was $425 per night for a standard room for two adults for the three-day draft. The lowest per night rate during the three days is $223 at Bally’s on Thursday when the draft begins, with the most expensive being at Wynn where rates were $699 per night for Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the draft weekend.

To gather intel on the draft’s production, LVCVA officials Rossi Ralenkotter, then CEO, and Hill along with Dondero and Raiders executives attended the 2018 draft in Dallas. Las Vegas officials also attended this year’s draft in Nashville, as Hill mentioned at last month’s Las Vegas Stadium Authority board meeting.

“Nashville did a great job. It was a really nice environment and we’re looking forward to hosting that draft next year and taking it to even greater heights,” said Hill, a stadium authority director. “That planning process is starting now. We’re one of the few cities who had the opportunity to know it would host more than a year in advance. So, not that we need a leg up to put on great events, but having that kind of time in order to do so, I think is going to make that, in combination with everything that the NFL brings to Las Vegas, a pretty spectacular event next April.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates the Sands Expo Hall and Convention Center.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Staff writers Ben Gotz, Adam Hill and Richard N. Velotta contributed to this report.

Don't miss the latest Raiders news. Like our Vegas Nation page
Raiders Videos
Five Raiders to Watch on Offense in 2019
The Oakland Raiders finished 2018 last in the AFC West with a record of 4-12. With head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock attempting to steer the team into a winning season, the Review-Journal's Heidi Fang takes a look at five players that can help propel the team toward that goal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
On a Short Field Raiders Leave Canada With a Thrilling 22-21 Win - VIDEO
After The CFL Goal-Post forced the game to be played using only 80 yards, the Raiders defeated the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg 22-21. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders fend off Packers, win 22-21 - VIDEO
The Raiders moved to 3-0 in the preseason taking home a narrow 22-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers. The game winning field goal was hit by Daniel Carlson with just 8 seconds remaining in the game. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation Mailbag | August 22, 2019
The Review-Journal's Heidi Fang and Ed Graney are back for a new rendition of the Vegas Nation mailbag! Send in your Raiders questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Jon Gruden Does Not Think Raiders Are Distracted - VIDEO
Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden talks about what he's looking for in the teams third preseason game Thursday in Winnipeg, also says he doesn't believe in the narrative of Hard Knocks and Antonio Brown distracting the team. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Antonio Brown Practices with Raiders in Alameda - VIDEO
Antonio Brown was once again present for the Raiders first practice of the season in Alameda and while he looked to be stretching on his own, he eventually practiced with the team after finding a helmet later on. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Antonio Brown Back With Raiders on Final Day of Training Camp - VIDEO
Wide Receiver Antonio Brown was back with the Raiders in Napa for the final day of Training Camp, just one day after General Manager Mike Mayock commented on Brown's status with the team. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vontaze Burfict talks defense, Paul Guenther details preseason strategy - VIDEO
Raiders Linebacker Vontaze Burfict describes his leadership on this years defense. Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther details his preseason strategy with new players and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson talks about Derek Carr's growth. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mike Mayock comments on Antonio Brown's recurring absence from camp - VIDEO
General Manager Mike Mayock seemingly gave Antonio Brown an ultimatum after the receiver yet again disappeared from the teams training camp in Napa, CA. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Johnathan Abram On Moving to Las Vegas - Video
Raiders safety Johnathan Abram talks about the team moving to Las Vegas and how he is ready to bring his game to the desert in the new Allegiant Stadium.
Raiders Safety Johnathan Abram and Wife Bri'Anna On Being A Football Family - Video
Raiders safety Johnathan Abram and his wife Bri'Anna sit down to talk about being a football family and what it means for their daughter and how it changed their lifestyle.
Derek Carr talks receiver depth while rookie Josh Jacobs gets praise - VIDEO
After practice Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr talked about the current depth of the receiver position. Head Coach Jon Gruden and Wide Receiver Tyrell Williams had a lot of praise for rookie Running Back Josh Jacobs and his offensive versatility. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Potential grass Raiders will play on being tested out by stadium crew - Video
The Raiders have yet to decide which grass they will choose as the turf the team plays on when it comes to Las Vegas in 2020, but the testing process is already underway at Allegiant Stadium. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Vs. Cardinals Post Game Press conference
The Oakland Raiders came away with a preseason 33-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks to media after the game.
Raiders defense steps up in win over Cardinals - Video
The Oakland Raiders came away with a preseason 33-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Raiders beat writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal Myles Simmons discuss three takeaways from the win.
Vegas Nation Mailbag August 15, 2019
The Review-Journal's Heidi Fang and Ed Graney are back for a new rendition of the Vegas Nation mailbag! Send in your Raiders questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Derek Carr and Jon Gruden talk Antonio Brown Return - VIDEO
Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr talks to the media about Antonio Brown's return to Napa. Head Coach Jon Gruden talks roster cuts and Brown's appearance. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 12 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Myles discuss Antonio Brown's surprise appearance at Raiders Training Camp. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Antonio Brown Full Press Conference - VIDEO
Raiders Wide Receiver Antonio Brown showed up late to Tuesday's practice in Napa, California and addressed his current situations in the Raiders press conference. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Preseason Game 1 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Heidi, Adam and Michael discuss everything that happened during the Raiders first and final preseason game in Oakland,CA (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden talks preseason excitement, Peterman and Doss TD connection
Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden talks about the competition and excitement of preseason games. Nathan Peterman and Keelan Doss talk about their touchdown connection in Doss' hometown. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raider Fans say HBO Hard Knocks got them pumped for the season
With the Oakland Raiders being featured on HBO's Hard Knocks, the Review-Journal's Heidi Fang asked fans at training camp in Napa what they thought about the team being on the show, how their team was portrayed and their reactions to what they saw. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden Talks Plans for Saturday's Preseason Game - VIDEO
Best of the press conference after day 2 of joint Practices with the Los Angeles Rams from Napa, CA. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 11: Day 2 of Joint Practice with the Rams - VIDEO
Adam and Michael discuss everything from the final day of practice before the first preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rams talk about skirmishes with the Raiders - Video
On the second day of the Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders joint practices at training camp in Napa, skirmishes broke out between the teams. Rams coach Sean McVay, cornerback Marcus Peters and defensive tackle Aaron Donald talk about what happened on the field when push came to shove. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rams QB Jared Goff gives the Raiders some advice for Hard Knocks - VIDEO
After a joint practice at the Raiders NFL training camp in Napa, Rams quarterback Jared Goff gave some advice for the Raiders who are being featured on HBO's Hard Knocks. Running back Todd Gurley spoke about the Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs and head coach Sean McVay spoke about Lamarcus Joyner and Antonio Brown. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp LA Rams first joint practice - VIDEO
The Oakland Raider had their first joint practice with the La Rams before Saturdays first NFL preseason matchup. The Review-Journal's Michael Gehlken and Adam Hill breakdown recap the days practice.
Raider The Dog - Video
Raider The Dog gave a demonstration of his suspect apprehension abilities at Raiders Training Camp after practice in Napa. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best of Sound Day 9
The best of Jon Gruden's press conference after day 9 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa, CA
Wrap Up Day 9 - VIDEO
Adam and Michael wrap up day 9 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa,CA before the first episode of HBO's Hard Knocks airs.
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Raiders Topping Ceremony of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas - Video
The Raiders held a topping ceremony in Las Vegas where the last beam to connect the last roof truss was hoisted into the stadium frame. The team also announced their naming rights partner, Allegiant Air. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 8 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Adam wrap up day 8 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa, CA
A look at the Raiders headquarters under construction in Henderson
Don Webb, chief operating officer of the LV Stadium Co., gives the Review-Journal a tour of the Raiders headquarters under construction in Henderson. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts views Las Vegas stadium as opportunity
MGM Resorts International intends to offer tailgating experiences at its resorts before and after events at Raiders stadium. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mayock discusses signing Incognito
Raiders GM Mike Mayock speaks to media regarding the team signing Richie Incognito.
THE LATEST
 
2020 NFL Draft Set for Las Vegas

The city of Las Vegas will welcome the NFL with open arms in 2020, with the draft set for April 23-25 and the new Raiders stadium opening in July.

NFL draft gives Las Vegas targets for crowd, TV ratings

The NFL said Monday that more than 600,000 attended the draft over the three days in Nashville, easily eclipsing the 250,000 that came to watch two years ago in Philadelphia.

Nashville parties during 2019 NFL Draft — PHOTOS

From decked-out players to fans showing their team colors, Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee, was a sea of football lovers Thursday, enjoying the first night of the 2019 NFL Draft.