NASHVILLE — The 2019 NFL Draft is scheduled to be held outdoors on Thursday night, but that could change if Mother Nature decides she doesn’t want to cooperate with the NFL, and right now, it’s starting to look like she’s not a huge football fan.
With just hours to go until the draft kicks off, the current forecast in Nashville is calling for a high chance of rain. According to weather.com, there’s a 55 percent chance of rain at 7 p.m. CT when the draft is set to start, and after that, the percentages are expected to reach as high as 85 percent before the end of the night.
The problem for the NFL is that most of the event is outdoors. Although the main draft stage is underneath a large tent, the seating set up for fans is on a large set of metal bleachers that’s out in the open.
If it does rain, the draft might not be moved, but if there’s lightning, the NFL will almost certainly relocate the event since you can’t have fans sitting on metal bleachers in the middle of a lightning storm.
According to Eric Finkelstein, the NFL’s senior director for event operations, the league knew there would be a chance for inclement weather at the draft, so they’ve already drawn up a contingency plan.
“This is the NFL. We play in all weather, rain or shine, but if it’s a safety concern, we have a plan,” Finkelstein told the Tennessean. “We’ve worked in similar venues before, and we have contingency plans for our contingency plans.”
It appears the NFL’s main contingency plan will be to move the event to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which is about a 0.2 mile walk from where the main draft stage is located. The Symphony Center is already the home of Selection Square — where the league’s 32 teams will be located during the draft — so it makes sense to move the draft there in case of inclement weather.
If the bad weather does end up hitting, the NFL will use the screens and a sound system at the draft stage to let fans know where they should go. The bad weather would also mean that Roger Goodell and the 22 prospects in attendance would head over to the Symphony Center.
“We’ve worked through tirelessly to figure out exactly how all that would work,” Finkelstein told Fox 17 in Nashville. “But yes, if it came down to it, the commissioner announcements would happen right here on [the Symphony Center] stage.”
Basically, there’s going to be a lot of drama on Thursday night and Mother Nature might provide just as much of it as the draft does.
Here’s one more look at the outdoor setup.
No matter what happens with the weather, CBS Sports HQ will be coming to you live from the DawgHouse Saloon in Nashville with all the draft coverage you can handle. Make sure to click here once the draft starts so you can catch our live coverage all weekend.