Let’s travel back to the end of the 1995 NFL Season. After finishing towards the bottom of the AFC Central division, coupled with the Cleveland Indians moving from the field and taking their suite revenues with them, the Cleveland Browns were looking for a change. Then Browns owner, Art Modell, was looking to move the Browns from Cleveland, the team’s home since 1944, to Baltimore during the 1995 NFL Season. Needless to say, that decision did not go over well with fans, season ticket holders, and the city of Cleveland as a whole. The City of Cleveland decided to sue Art Modell, along with other conspirators involved in the move, to keep the team in their home city. Therefore, at the beginning of the 1996 season, the NFL announced that the Cleveland Browns organization would become “deactivated” for three years while the legal proceedings unfolded.
Fast forward to 1999, after three years of deliberation and debate, the NFL had come to a solution. Art Modell would jumpstart the NFL’s 31st franchise in Baltimore, and the Cleveland Browns would be granted a new stadium and stay where they’ve always belonged, in the heart of Cleveland, Ohio.
Now, we find ourselves in the present day, as the 2021 NFL Draft is about to kick off at First Energy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns since 1999. However, to understand the immense importance of this decision to locate the NFL’s highest-watched event in Cleveland, we not only have to look at a short history of the draft, but a take a peek at the current state of the Cleveland Browns football program.
First, the NFL Draft began in 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Only ninety names were written on the board for NFL teams to choose from. This event jumpstarted the main pathway the NFL would choose to select recruits for their professional football teams.
After many years of expansion, and NFL teams finding their ways into most major cities across the US, the draft became more and more popular as the years went on. Due to this increase in popularity, with more and more college athletes emerging as top talent, the NFL made their decision to start holding the draft in more popular cities, with a larger arena to hold the event. Therefore, after the merging of the two conferences, the NFL started to host their annual draft in New York City until 2014. At the start of the 2015 off-season, the NFL opened up the venue location to include a different location every year. In 2015-2016 it was Chicago and in 2017 they went back to their roots and hosted it in Philadelphia. Dallas and Nashville were the succeeding locations, with the 2020 NFL Draft being held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021 we find ourselves facing yet another NFL Draft, except this year, you guessed it… it’s coming to Cleveland, Ohio!
FirstEnergy Stadium will play host for fans and players alike as it sponsors the first NFL Draft to ever come to the city. Between the increase in Brown’s popularity to their recent success, which includes making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Not only is this a big deal because it’s the first NFL Draft to find its way to the Midwest, but it shows the rise not only the Browns are experiencing, but the entire city of Cleveland as well.
So, you might be wondering: why the long history about the Cleveland Browns and the NFL Draft? A great question, and one that I have an even better answer for.
GPRS had the distinct honor to bring our industry-leading subsurface locating services to Cleveland and help our partners in the NFL help get everything established in time for the 2021 NFL Draft!
When we got the initial call from C3, the event company helping to put on and run the NFL Draft, it was because one of their engineers made a crucial mistake. You see, when building and setting up the stage, the largest and most crucial piece of equipment that is going to be center stage (pun intended), they didn’t think they’d need to drill bolts into the ground to keep it sturdy and supported. However, as they were erecting the stage, where future NFL superstars would hold up their team’s jersey with NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell, they realized they actually needed to drill into the ground, or else the stage wouldn’t be sturdy enough. In comes GPRS to the rescue. Because of our prior relationship with both the NFL and FirstEnergy Stadium, C3 called up our Project Manager, David Abdul, requiring our unique locating services to ensure they could safely drill into the location where the stage was going to be set.
After scanning the area with our top-of-the-line ground penetrating radar (GPR) equipment, and determining it safe for drilling, needless to say, C3 and their partners at FirstEnergy Stadium, were impressed with our services. Therefore, they decided to bring GPRS back to help scan the areas surrounding the stadium and the streets leading to it. For 5 more days, GPRS Project Managers and field staff, performed locating services, providing safe opportunities for C3 to place temporary fencing and promotional tents for the upcoming draft. The temporary fencing stretched all the way from the stadium to adjacent roads, blocking off the area for this large, encompassing event.
But was there anything that GPRS found that actually helped the process? Glad you asked.
While scanning the surrounding parking lot in preparation for the temporary draft fencing, David Abdul found a “void” spot after scanning it with our GPR scanner. Turns out, this void was well-known by the property managers, and in a past project where they renovated the parking lot, a field worker fell into this sinkhole and became seriously injured. Because of GPRS and our SIM-qualified Project Managers, we were able to detect this voidance, and protect other workers and fencing personnel from becoming seriously injured and prevent costly damages in the lot where the fencing would be placed.
The rest of the job went smoothly, and due to GPRS, C3 and our NFL partners were able to successfully create a safe and exciting environment to hold the 2021 NFL Draft! On behalf of everyone at GPRS it’s always exciting to get a call from an organization as influential and important as the National Football League.
We are just as excited for the NFL Draft as anyone and are extremely grateful we were able to play a small role in this event, and the future lives of all the young men who will become professional athletes on Thursday.