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Cincinnati hopes to be the site of a future NFL draft

Cincinnati Bengals fans celebrate during the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas.
Steve Luciano
Cincinnati Bengals fans celebrate during the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas.

Could Cincinnati get picked to be the site of a future NFL draft? Visit Cincy hopes so. CEO Julie Calvert says the visitors bureau has asked the league to take a look at the Queen City.

Visit Cincy partnered with the Bengals to notify the league of Cincinnati's interest in hosting the draft in either 2027, 2028 or 2029. Preliminary discussions with the NFL have already taken place.

Calvert said the effort is part of a larger initiative to land more high-profile sports events in Cincinnati as work begins to revamp Downtown's convention district.

"With our world-class assets, we must think bigger," she said. "Marquee large-scale events like March Madness and the NFL draft can be quickly within our sights."

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The draft began in 1936 and rotated among cities with an NFL team each year until 1965, when the league began holding it annually in New York City. The draft began rotating among various cities again in 2015. Cincinnati has never hosted a draft before, though Cleveland did in 2021. Las Vegas hosted last year's draft, Kansas City will host this year's and Detroit will host 2024's event.

Calvert revealed the discussions about the NFL draft Friday during Visit Cincy's annual meeting. Visitors bureau leadership also talked about progress on the city's convention district and the need for a new arena.

More calls for a new arena

Visit Cincy Board Chair and FC Cincinnati co-CEO Jeff Berding argued the current arena Downtown is obsolete. He wants a third-party study to find the best design, location and financing for a new facility. The current facility, now called Heritage Bank Center, was originally named Riverfront Coliseum.

"Think about this," he said. "It's been nearly 50 years since we built Riverfront Coliseum, which debuted only five years after we opened Riverfront Stadium. Think about that. Riverfront Stadium, we all agreed, was obsolete and we demolished it over 20 years ago."

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Berding didn't get into how a new arena could be financed. He did show renderings of a potential future arena and pointed to smaller-sized cities like Lincoln, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa, which have built arenas recently without major league sports teams.

"Those cities have figured it out," he said.

Nick has reported from a nuclear waste facility in the deserts of New Mexico, the White House press pool, a canoe on the Mill Creek, and even his desk one time.