Next month’s NFL draft was supposed to represent a grand introduction to Las Vegas as the league's newest market. The entertainment hub had big plans for the three-day event on The Strip, adjacent to the site of the nearly-constructed Allegiant Stadium that will be the Raiders new home in 2020.
Top selections were going to ride through the Bellagio fountains on a boat for an introduction unlike any other, with events throughout the famous resort hub.
Las Vegas Raiders merchandise was set to debut at an event attended by hundreds of thousands.
The coronavirus pandemic canceled all of those plans. First all NFL draft public events got shut down due to bans on large gatherings and the practice of social distancing designed to slow the spread of the possibly fatal COVID-19 disease. Then the league pulled out of the city entirely in favor of an in-studio draft with prospects joining via video conferencing technology to ensure everyone involved stays healthy and safe.
Pulling the 2020 draft out of Las Vegas disappointed the Raiders, but it was a decision they expected and agreed with during this international public health crisis.
The Raiders may not have to wait long to put on a show. The NFL is considering Las Vegas as a draft host city in 2022, league vice president Peter O'Reilly said Tuesday on a conference call.
NFL EVP Peter O’Reilly says the league is considering holding the 2022 draft in Las Vegas. That one is currently open, even though the 2021 draft is slated for Cleveland and the 2023 draft is headed for Kansas City.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) March 31, 2020
The NFL has committed to Cleveland as a draft host in 2021 and Kansas City in 2023, but there’s an opening that could and should go to Las Vegas after it missed out on a chance to throw a big party.
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The NFL also said it plans to start its season on time and play every game on the docket. The NFL schedule will be released by May 9 at this latest.
While the NFL is considering Las Vegas for 2022, they should secure that spot for the city as soon as possible. It’s more than deserving and shouldn’t be penalized for a set of circumstances completely out of their control.