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Sports

Cleveland Welcomes the 2021 NFL Draft

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Sean Fitzgerald
/
WKSU
The stage has been set up for the 2021 NFL draft outside FirstEnergy Stadium with areas specially designated for fans of the 32 teams. All fans present are required to be vaccinated.

The NFL is taking steps toward a return to normalcy with the draft the city of Cleveland is hosting tonight through Saturday in Cleveland. Some prospects and fans are being allowed to attend the festivities going on by the shores of Lake Erie.

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Sean Fitzgerald
Fans walk towards the outdoor draft stage that has been erected between FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The draft is the NFL’s most popular event other than the Super Bowl and opening day. After last year's event in Las Vegas was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league went all virtual. It's back on the road in Cleveland -- with a three-day event that signals a step forward in the sport's effort to get back to normal.

The draft has grown into one of America's biggest, non-game sporting events. Thousands of fans who attend in person will be separated by their loyalties, and whether they've been vaccinated.

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Sean Fitzgerald
Individual team flags line the perimeter of the area set up outside FirstEnergy Stadium for fans to sit down and eat. All tables have been set up at socially distanced lengths.

The draft will be the first major outdoor event since the virus altered lives in 2020. Commissioner Roger Goodell will once again welcome draft picks with hearty hugs and he'll hear some boos from masked fans in front of a large stage erected by the league near FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.