ALAMEDA, Calif. — Las Vegas will host the 2020 NFL Draft, the league announced Wednesday, effectively providing an opening ceremony to the Raiders’ first season in their new home.
The city was awarded the three-day event in favor of finalists Denver, Kansas City and Cleveland/Canton, Ohio.
“The Raiders are very excited for Las Vegas and are proud to help host the 2020 NFL Draft,” team owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and will provide a tremendous experience for the NFL and its fans.”
Although dates have yet to be determined, the event generally opens with its first round on a Thursday in late April. The second and third rounds follow on Friday and the final four rounds come Saturday.
Surrounding festivities, such as community events with invited draft-eligible athletes, take place earlier in the week and are expected to be held throughout the valley.
The Las Vegas Raiders will open their inaugural regular-season at their new stadium that September.
“The NFL draft is one of the most-anticipated events of the year, and we are excited to take it to Las Vegas,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We look forward to working 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.”
Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said he had a “pretty strong indication over the last couple of weeks” Las Vegas would receive the bid; however, the decision was not considered a certainty until it was formally announced at the league’s owner meetings in Irving, Texas.
Economic impact projections for hosting the draft are not currently available, Hill said. He added that he anticipates such estimates to arrive within the next couple of months.
“The NFL is the highest-followed professional sport in the United States,” Hill said in a phone interview. “The draft is the largest event related to sports that does not include a sporting event in the country. It is watched by millions. It is reported on by every NFL reporter in the world. Having the draft here will be great for the community. It will provide a significant economic boost to Las Vegas. The eyes of the sports world will be on our city for that entire week, and that’s just a great opportunity for us.”
Before Wednesday, the Raiders’ 2020 relocation from Oakland widely was considered on schedule, given the continued work at the stadium site. That the draft was awarded to Las Vegas in favor of entrenched NFL markets is the latest indicator the move remains on track.
Hill said that it has yet to be determined where exactly in Las Vegas the draft will be held.
He was among the city officials who attended the 2018 draft at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. There, he was positioned to communicate with all involved in the efforts required to host the event. He plans to be part of the Las Vegas contingent attending next April’s draft in Nashville.
New York City hosted the NFL draft from 1965 to 2014. The event since has rotated across various major NFL cities, including Philadelphia and Chicago.
The Raiders (3-10) own two first-round draft picks in 2020 — their own selection and one from the Chicago Bears as part of this year’s Khalil Mack trade. They have three first-round selections next year, including what is currently projected to be the No. 3 overall pick.
Team president Marc Badain phoned into the Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee meeting Wednesday and spoke briefly to officials before a scheduled flight from Texas.
“I think that’s a significant accomplishment in many ways,” Badain said of the draft. “The fact that we’re not even three years into the start of this relationship with what we have being built over there off the freeway and then to get the NFL to bring one of its signature events to the community is really quite astounding and something to be proud of.
“It’s something that I’ve stated in a number of these meetings that the people in this community don’t realize what they’ve been able to accomplish, how quickly they’ve been able to accomplish it, and I think it’s appropriate on a day like today, when we’re talking about the results of this committee may look like, we were granted an event without even the current existence of a committee.”