Las Vegas will host the '20 NFL Draft, "effectively providing an opening ceremony to the Raiders’ first season in their new home," according to a front-page piece by Michael Gehlken of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The city was "awarded the three-day event" in favor of finalists Denver, K.C. and Cleveland/Canton. Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority CEO Steve Hill said he had a “pretty strong indication over the last couple of weeks” that Las Vegas would receive the bid. However, Gehlken notes the decision was "not considered a certainty until it was formally announced at the league’s owner meetings in Irving, Texas." Hill said that it has "yet to be determined where exactly in Las Vegas the draft will be held" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/13). However, NFL Senior VP/Events Peter O’Reilly revealed yesterday that the event will be "on and around the Vegas Strip" (Daniel Kaplan, THE DAILY).
TWITTER REAX: Fox Sports Radio's Jason Smith: "Every single big sporting event should be in Las Vegas: Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, everything. It's the ultimate vacation/tourist destination across the U.S." MGM Resorts: "@nflcommish, let us know if you need a tour guide." Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman: "A Super Bowl will not be far behind!" Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrique: "What could go wrong?" The MMQB's Andrew Brandt: "Four years ago the NFL shut down a Fantasy Football convention (with Tony Romo and others) because it was adjacent to a casino. Now they they will have a team and the Draft in Las Vegas in 2020."
NOT SHUT OUT COMPLETELY: In Canton, Chris Beaven wrote the "glitz and glamour of Las Vegas won out over the history of pro football" in Ohio. However, the NFL will "celebrate the 100th anniversary of the league’s founding during the 2020 season, with plans already being made for a celebration in Canton to coincide." A group of community leaders, NFL officials and Johnson Controls HOF Village executives are "planning the multimillion-dollar Centennial Celebration" for Sept. 14-17 (Canton REPOSITORY, 12/13).
A group tasked with "determining ways to draw to Las Vegas special sporting events" has recommended that tourism officials and proposed ad hoc committees "split efforts to attract events," according to Regina Cano of the AP. The plan developed by the Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee is "aimed at helping efforts" to fill the Raiders' 65,000-seat, partially tax-funded stadium that is set to open in '20. The recommendations "will now go to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval." The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority "would be the lead agency in bids for large-scale events" such as the NFL Draft and Super Bowl. The nonprofit Las Vegas Events "would head efforts to attract amateur, youth and other events" (AP, 12/13). In Las Vegas, Richard Velotta notes the recommendations came hours after the NFL announced yesterday that the '20 Draft "would be staged in Las Vegas." Draft festivities "were one of the big events the committee was hoping to attract to the city as a boost to tourism." The committee in recommending split efforts reasoned that "some special event bids could overlap, such as trying to attract a Super Bowl at the same time as an NCAA Basketball Final Four event, and the new plan would allow a group to focus on one event while another committee handles the other" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/13).
UFC has "scratched plans" for its scheduled Jan. 26 PPV at Honda Center in Anaheim, though the promotion will "still feature" 12 PPV events in '19, according to Bohn & Erickson of MMA JUNKIE. The main reason for the cancellation is that there has been "difficulty building a suitable event." The Henry Cejudo-T.J. Dillashaw headlining match had "already been taken off UFC 233 and moved to UFC on ESPN+," which takes place Jan. 19 at Barclays Center. All other bouts slated for Anaheim "are being rescheduled for upcoming cards." UFC 233 was "set to go head-to-head with Bellator 214, which takes place just miles away from the Honda Center at The Forum in Inglewood" (MMAJUNKIE.com, 12/12). ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto noted it has "not yet been determined whether Anaheim will host that PPV once it is rebooked." UFC 234 on Feb. 10 in Melbourne "will continue to carry" that title despite the cancellation of 233 (ESPN.com, 12/12). Okamoto tweeted, "It's no secret, a big reason UFC 233 thinned out is the UFC is stacking its first ESPN+ card on Jan. 19. Good news if you're a consumer, right? Get a deep card for less money one week early, and you don't have to pick between UFC and Bellator on Jan. 26" (TWITTER.com, 12/12).
HERE WE GO AGAIN: In L.A., Brian Martin notes this is the "second time the UFC has announced a show at Honda Center the same night as a Bellator card, only to back off due to a lack of headliner fights." Bellator CEO Scott Coker "was diplomatic in a statement," though he "couldn't resist a dig on Twitter in the form of a GIF" that shows an infant turning around with a surprised look on his face. Martin notes UFC "knew it put the cart before the horse again in an attempt to put a dent in Bellator's wallet," and the "only option was to cut bait." Martin: "This is Southern California. Bring it strong or don't bring it at all" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/13).