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NFL Draft plans for Vegas still include stage over Bellagio fountains

Updated February 2, 2022 - 6:09 am

The grand plans for the NFL Draft in Las Vegas in April are still on deck, including the red carpet presentation of college football stars over the Fountains of Bellagio.

NFL representatives on Tuesday updated Clark County Commissioners on the plans for the draft, which will take place April 28-30 in Las Vegas.

The city was originally set to host the draft in 2020 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the event. The NFL Draft was held in Nashville, Tennessee in 2019 and drew over 600,000 people over the three day event. Officials expect Las Vegas to draw as much, if not more, attendees for the 2022 event.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, noted that by 2024, Las Vegas will make NFL history by hosting the league’s three largest events — the draft, the Pro Bowl, which is being held this weekend in Las Vegas, and the Super Bowl, slated to come to Southern Nevada in 2024.

“I want to thank the NFL for the trust in our city and the ability to do a great job with their marquee events,” Hill said. “We are the first city ever to host the Pro Bowl, the draft and what will ultimately culminate with the Super Bowl in just a couple of years. We’re incredibly excited about that.”

How it will work

According to the NFL’s plans, top players expected to go high in the draft will be ferried to a stage over the Bellagio fountains where they will make media rounds on the red carpet and then be ferried off the water and onto Las Vegas Boulevard.

From there a waiting vehicle will transport the players from the Strip, east on Flamingo Road and to the NFL Draft main stage set to be located outside of the Caesars Forum convention center.

“We really try to highlight and take on the life of where we are,” said Eric Finkelstein, senior director of event operations for the NFL. “What better way to do that than to actually build our red carpet stage into the Bellagio fountain itself. That will really kick off our event.”

The red carpet arrivals at the Fountains of Bellagio are planned to begin at 2:15 p.m. April 28, the first day of the draft.

The draft theater, which will house the main stage, is to be located at Caesars Forum and is set to be the largest in the event’s history. The temporary structure will be 105 feet wide and 280 feet deep. The back wall of the main stage will consist of several large LED screens, allowing all fans in attendance to view the action.

The fan-friendly NFL Draft Experience is also planned to be located outside, near the Linq and Caesars Forum area. There will be multiple activities for fans to take part in, including a 40-yard dash activation and an area that will display the Raiders’ three Super Bowl trophies.

“That is the hub of where all of our activities will be located,” Finkelstein said. “This will include our Draft Experience, our interactive theme park… for fans to be able to engage with all the various activities that will happen there.”

The draft will begin at 5 p.m. April 28 and run until 8 p.m. On Day 2 of the draft, April 29, the selections will occur between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., with Day 3 expected to run from 9 a.m to 4 p.m.

The Draft Experience is set to be open between noon and 9:30 p.m. on April 28; noon and 10 p.m. April 29; and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 30, the final day of the draft.

Road closures

Road impacts will be reduced from the original plans, as the NFL decided to not build a welcome arch in the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo. That would have led to a full 46-hour shutdown of the normally busy intersection.

Major road impacts tied to the draft begin April 13 with the two outside southbound lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard being closed 24 hours a day through May 6. During that same period, a portion of the outside lane on eastbound Flamingo will also be closed 24 hours per day.

One additional lane on Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard will also shut to traffic between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day between April 13 and May 6, outside of the three draft days.

Day 1 of the draft will see a full closure of Las Vegas Boulevard from Flamingo to the west entrance of the Bellagio for 24 hours. During that time Flamingo between Las Vegas Boulevard and Koval Lane will also be completely closed to vehicle traffic, outside of the players being shuttled between the Bellagio and the Linq area.

On April 29 and 30, the same roads will be closed, but the Strip and Flamingo will open to traffic overnight.

County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick expressed concern about how the road closures would impact delivery of goods to Strip resorts as well as the ability of resort employees to travel back and forth to work.

“There’s logistically just sometimes you can’t get to those locations,” Kirkpatrick said. “For instance, today we already delivered to some hotel between 2 (a.m.) and 5 (a.m.), just the produce because that’s how much produce they use. In today’s environments, you can’t expect for them to work a week ahead for the bulk of the stuff that they’re going to need.”

The NFL representatives said they have been in contact with area hotel operators such as Caesars Entertainment. They are confident the event can be carried out successfully, while still meeting the everyday needs of the properties.

“We hear you loud and clear and we definitely get your concerns,” Finkelstein said. “That’s why we’re here and will continue to have these conversations, not only with you (the board), but also make sure we are connecting with the groups that are impacted directly… We do events all over the place, but we do take it very seriously to minimize impact as much as possible.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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