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1:10 p.m.

NFL Draft Experience opens to fans

The NFL Draft Experience officially opened to fans on Thursday afternoon.

The area features an interactive theme park, NFL player appearances, food and beverage options and specialty retail items available only in Las Vegas for the draft.

The fan experience is located next to the draft theater, which sits behind the Linq hotel.

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12:15 pm

Part of Strip shut down for press conference

In what might be one of the most unique news conferences in Las Vegas history, officials kicked off NFL draft festivities Thursday from a stage in the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Flamingo Road.

“Doing this is not easy,” said Steve Hill, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority president. “This is the first we have ever shut down Las Vegas Boulevard for a press conference.”

During the event, Las Vegas Boulevard between Flamingo and Bellagio Drive was renamed Draft Drive for the three-day event.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said it is a surreal day for Las Vegas, especially with the city’s experience with the league in the past.

“I remember when Las Vegas couldn’t get an ad on during Super Bowl,” Sisolak said. “Now we’ve got the draft, we had the Pro Bowl coming here and the Super Bowl. It’s just amazing.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he was relieved to finally be in Las Vegas after the 2020 draft was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s exciting to think when we think back to two years ago, when we were supposed to be here for the 2020 NFL draft and I got detoured to my basement,” Goodell said.

Goodell is looking forward to a long-standing relationship with the city and big events going forward.

“Think about this, we just had the Pro Bowl here… you now have the draft here and Super Bowl 58 is coming here in just two years,” Goodell said. “Three of our biggest tent pole events coming to Las Vegas in a five year period. I think that speaks a great deal to the commitment of the Raiders, to the NFL, or Las Vegas… to what we can all do together.”

Mick Akers

12:33 p.m.

Weather, winds no problem for NFL Draft

The National Weather Service issued a high-wind advisory for Las Vegas with wind speeds of between 30-45 mph possible on Thursday, but the NFL’s show will go on, even if it gets windy.

“Our contingency plans have contingency plans and we always have a playbook for any potential issue,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

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-Richard N. Velotta

10:46 a.m.

Washington fan easy to spot

Edward Friton from Winchester, Virginia was decked out Thursday in a Washington Redskins suit a ...
Edward Friton from Winchester, Virginia was decked out Thursday in a Washington Redskins suit and donning a Washington-themed wrestling championship belt. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

One of the early fans walking down Las Vegas Boulevard in front of the Bellagio was hard to miss.

Edward Friton from Winchester, Virginia, was decked out in a Washington Redskins suit and donning a Washington-themed wrestling championship belt. He also had glitter caked into his beard.

(The team formerly known as the Redskins has changed its name to the Washington Commanders.)

“First of all I’ve got the Redskin shoes, had to go with the bow tie, a regular tie moves too much in the wind,” Friton said. “I have my grandfather here (on the championship belt) he was in the marching band of the Washington Redskins. Yes, I am a Redskins fan for life.”

Related: NFL draft tracker

Friton said he got the massive amount of glitter in his beard by spraying a healthy layer of hair spray, then adding the glitter and finishing with another layer of hair spray.

“I’m goofy, it didn’t take me that long to come up with the concept,” Friton said. “The jacket I’ve had for years. It used to be my Thanksgiving jacket.”

Friton arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday to take in the sights before the draft kicked off.

He appreciated that a portion of the Strip was shuttered. “It’s a lot easier to get around,” Friton said.

Mick Akers

9:30 a.m.

After 2 years, NFL draft finally reaches Las Vegas

After a two-year delay, the NFL draft is finally kicking off in Las Vegas.

The three-day event begins Thursday with the NFL Draft Experience opening at noon.

Official draft activity will start at 1:45 p.m. over the much talked about red carpet stage over the Fountains of Bellagio. There the top prospects in this year’s draft will walk the stage, making media rounds, before being shuttled to the draft theater area behind the Linq.

The draft is expected to draw around 200,000 attendees daily, paving the way for what may be the largest event in Las Vegas history. The Strip in front Bellagio Drive to Flamingo Road is shut down to vehicle traffic, as is Flamingo from Las Vegas Boulevard to Koval Lane, to allow fans to take in the draft experience at both activity hubs safely and seamlessly.

If previous drafts are any indicator, many fans will be dressed in outlandish costumes representing their favorite team, The draft has become known as the marquee fan event for the league since it started taking it on the road in 2015.

The NFL had planned to hold the draft in Las Vegas in 2020, but was forced to make it a virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mick Akers

Article written by Las Vegas Review-Journal #ReviewJournal

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