In the more than 20 years since the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and rebranded themselves as the Titans, you could argue that Nashville has never been the epicenter of the NFL.
The team hasn’t won any Super Bowls and has made it to the big game just once in that span, so there hasn’t been a time when all of the eyes of the NFL and its fans were centered on Music City.
So when Nashville was announced as the host for the 2019 NFL draft, this was supposed to be the city’s big moment and a chance to showcase what it has to offer.
Nashville’s turn in the spotlight starts Thursday night with the draft’s first round, but inclement weather is threatening to throw a wrinkle into the plans that have been set for so long.
Thunderstorms are in the forecast, according to the National Weather Service, and that could force the NFL to go with its backup plan for draft coverage.
“This is the NFL. We play in all weather, rain or shine, but if it’s a safety concern, we have a plan,” Eric Finkelstein, senior director for event operations at the NFL, said, according to the Tennessean. “We’ve worked in similar venues before, and we have contingency plans for our contingency plans.”
One of the contingency plans is to move the draft indoors if the outdoor stage becomes dangerous due to weather.
The Schermerhorn Symphony Center is just blocks away from where the draft stage is set up downtown, and it would house draft operations if the weather forced a move, the Tennessean reported.
The NFL rented out the center for a week, and it’s essentially the business headquarters during the draft. All 32 NFL teams have tables set up inside the building before the selections are then announced on the main stage.
Selection Square, as it’s called, is free and open to the public with seating on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“Everyone knows or thinks about the commissioner; this is the inner workings. It’s the actual selection process so it’s a unique opportunity to see selections coming in. They are filled out on a card that’s held up and you will see it live before commissioner makes announcement,” Finkelstein said, according to KXAN-TV.
The potential of the draft being rained out is a new phenomenon for the NFL, which held its player selection meeting indoors until recently.
For most of the league’s history, the draft took place in hotels or indoor venues such as the Theater at Madison Square Garden or Radio City Music Hall, both in New York.
Fred Mandel, left, president of the Detroit Lions, and Charles “Chile” Walsh, assistant coach of the Cleveland Rams, look over prospects at the @NFLDraft in Chicago, April 18, 1943. | Photo Harry L. Hall #NFLDraft2019 pic.twitter.com/qNjHQsGonz
— AP Images (@AP_Images) April 25, 2019
But the 2015 and 2016 drafts featured a “Draft Town” in Chicago’s Grant Park, and Philadelphia’s Eakins Oval hosted the draft in 2017.
Next year’s draft, the 85th edition, will take place in Las Vegas.
This year’s draft begins Thursday with Round 1, followed by Rounds 2-3 on Friday and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
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