No city in the world knows how to host a big event quite like Las Vegas, and the NFL is definitely planning to take advantage of that fact when the draft kicks off Thursday.
The NFL has big plans for Las Vegas, and one of the biggest plans involves a red carpet stage that's being constructed over water in front of the fountains at the Bellagio. The NFL put the finishing touches on the construction of that stage this week, which means you can now get a good idea of what things are going to look like when the draft kicks off.
Here's what the red carpet stage looks like from up close:
Once the sun goes down, here's what the draft stage will look like under the neon lights of Vegas:
Although both of the videos above show the stage, the water and the Bellagio, it doesn't really do the scene justice. To get the full picture of what the set looks like, you really need an aerial view and it just so happens we have one of those.
In the picture below, you can see what the red carpet set will look like for someone who's staying at the Bellagio this weekend.
And here's another shot of the stage from above:
The only way to beat those two pictures is to get some drone footage of the draft set and that's exactly what Fox 5 in Las Vegas did this week.
If you watch the footage, you'll get a better idea of the entire set up.
Also, here's a picture that will give you a better idea of where the red carpet stage is set up on the strip.
After player walks the red carpet at the Bellagio fountains, they will be quickly transported to the main draft stage, which is about a mile away behind The LINQ Hotel + Experience.
Vegas was originally supposed to host the draft back in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the draft was moved to Roger Goodell's basement. Although the draft didn't get held in Vegas that year, the NFL did draw up the plans for what the event was going to look like. Although this year's plan and the 2020 plan are pretty similar, there is one big difference: There won't be any boats involved.
In 2020, the NFL was going to have a boat take each prospect to the main stage. However, at some point over the past month, the league decided to scrap that plan, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
One month out from the NFL Draft. Slight change to the Bellagio fountains red carpet stage plans. Players will no longer be ferried by boat to and from the platform. They’ll now instead walk on and off on temporary walkways from Las Vegas Boulevard. #vegas #nfldraft #nfl pic.twitter.com/yhBJHy423G— Mick Akers (@mickakers) March 28, 2022
Although the red carpet area will likely get plenty of air time on TV this week, that's not where the brunt of the action will be taking place. When teams make their picks this week, they won't be at the Bellagio. Instead, they'll be making those picks from the NFL Draft theater, which will be located behind the High Roller ferris wheel and next to the Caesars Forum.
For sports enthusiasts in @Vegas, Caesars Entertainment offers a prime location in the heart of The Strip for the ultimate festival footprint of more than 1M sq ft. The #NFLDraft Theater & @NFL Draft Experience will be located behind the High Roller and @TheLINQ.#NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/fInNG0qHQO— Caesars Entertainment (@CaesarsEnt) April 18, 2022
Here's what the main tent of the draft theater will look like when it's complete.
The large white tent is where the main draft stage will be, meaning that's the area where Goodell will be announcing picks. The forum will be the home of selection square, which is where all 32 teams will be set up.
To make this all work, Vegas will be doing something it almost never does: Closing off a portion of the iconic strip. The part of the strip located in front of the Bellagio will be closed to vehicle traffic during all three days of the draft. Flamingo Road will also be closed between the strip and Koval Lane, which will allow fans to freely walk from the red carpet stage at the Bellagio to the main event space near the forum.
With the draft being in Vegas, there will be no shortage of entertainment. Fans attending the festivities will get to see everyone from Ice Cube to Criss Angel to the Blue Man Group. (You can see the full lineup here.)
The draft will kickoff on April 28 with the first round. The next two rounds of the draft will be held on April 29 with the final four rounds being held on April 30. If you're planning to attend the draft his year, just remember that what happens in Vegas this week definitely will not be staying in Vegas.