Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Fountains, Scuba, Slot Machine, Ferris Wheel and NFL Draft

LAS VEGAS ( Associated Press) — Draft night on Thursday will include prospects walking a red carpet above the Bellagio fountain, a theater specially built for proceedings where they hope to hear their names early, and gambling everywhere The aura

How about it for something different to the NFL?

There’s no question the taste of Sin City—from attractions ranging from casinos to themed hotels to show girls lining the players’ walkways to the nearby mountains—infuses into this draft. The league seems very happy with that symbiosis.

“The important thing for the draft is to take the character of where we are,” said Eric Finkelstein, NFL Senior Director of Event Operations. “This is not a cookie-cutter phenomenon. We try to embody and highlight where we are.”

He then noted the high roller Ferris wheel directly in front of him and perhaps three football fields away from the theater stage where Commissioner Roger Goodell would announce 32 picks on the opening night. Finkelstein also referred to circles on stage imitating the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Construction started on 1 April.

Digital playing cards flashed atop the stage, each designed for a specific NFL team. Adjacent to the theater, which will seat approximately 1,500 people and has a footprint of approximately one million square feet, is the Caesars Forum. There is also an “NFL Draft Door” in that convention center, which the league requested during construction.

“We worked with Kaiser to add a door so that we could take the possibilities out of the building with a direct connection to our theater construction,” said Heather Nanenberg, the league’s director of events.

The 2020 draft was originally scheduled for Las Vegas but became a virtual exercise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So 2022 was replaced, and some plans changed.

At Bellagio, for example, the idea was to put prospects on boats in the fountain to get them on the red carpet. Time constraints and weather concerns — Thursday night’s forecast calls for strong wind, unusual in Vegas this time of year — canned that idea.

Whether players need to avoid the heat before or after walking the carpet, however, Kelsey Pietrangelo, the NFL’s manager of live event operations, joked that “we’ll have scuba suits if they want to jump in.”

Actually, on Tuesday, there were employees in scuba gear who were adjusting late in the stage and walkway.

“Using six divers is a first for us,” she said.

Pietrangelo noted that 300 drones will circle the fountain from Wednesday to Friday and that the fountain will be used during the pre-draft festivities.

From the Bellagio, two billboards advertising sports betting, including one with the NFL logo, are in full view. As surely as they could be for TV networks later this week. No one from the league seems uncomfortable with that scenario, instead stressing the importance of their “partners”. Especially Caesars Entertainment.

“We really focused on our potential experience this year,” Nanenberg said, “and we remain committed to the Kaiser Forum.”

Since the league turned the draft into a roadshow in 2015, it has held what some (dull) circles call a “selection meeting” in Chicago for two years; Philadelphia; Arlington, Texas; Nashville; and Cleveland. The general consensus is that Music City topped the charts with its presentation, with Broadway estimating as many as 600,000 attendees over three days. Free concerts by Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley, as well as all kinds of freebies (and other temptations) were thrown in honky tonks.

Las Vegas may be on top that weekend, voluntarily closing a significant portion of the Strip and offering Weezer, Ice Cube, and marshmallows in concert. But the myriad other attractions in the city—music, magic, ventriloquism, tables and slots—can spook visitors, something that didn’t happen in Tennessee.

“Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world,” Finkelstein said. “We know there’s a lot of stuff going on in this city. They all get how to do a big event. We’ve gotten to cities where it was a bit of a challenge with the size. Here, they know we What are you trying to achieve?”


More Associated Press NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl & https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 & https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


Nation World News Desk
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