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Published: Friday, April 26, 2019 @ 5:02 PM
Updated: Saturday, April 27, 2019 @ 10:03 AM
— The final rounds of the NFL draft are just hours away, and Dayton is throwing a big football-themed party expected to draw thousands of people.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is expected to announce the Cincinnati Bengals’ 183rd selection in the live broadcast of the draft. Other community members are expected to announce picks, too.
But the planned groundbreaking for a new turf field at Triangle Park will not happen after a local American Indian leader raised concern this week that the site might be a burial ground. The city announced the decision Friday afternoon.
Officials say this will be the first time draft selections are made in Dayton, which was home to the NFL’s first game. While trades are possible, the Bengals came into the draft with five picks in the sixth round,.
“Don’t worry Bengals fans — I have no say in this draft pick,” said the mayor, whose husband is a loyal fan of the team.
Entry to today’s draft day event at Triangle Park at 2500 Ridge Ave. requires a ticket, which were free and distributed this week.
The city had 7,000 tickets to give away, but all were gone by Thursday morning.
This will be a family-friendly event offering football games, play areas and activities and food and beverage vendors (no alcohol).
The NFL has contracted with media outlets to televise the Bengals’ sixth-round selections, which will be made live at Triangle Park, said Stephan Marcellus, recreation manager with Dayton’s department of Recreation and Youth Services.
“This is just a fun event for Dayton — celebrating 100 years of football, the Dayton Triangles and the football field that will be installed” Marcellus said.
Aside from Dayton’s mayor, others expected to announce the Bengals picks include a Dayton flag football coach and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base personnel, city officials said.
The city postponed its plans to break ground today for a new turf field the NFL is donating to Triangle Park. The park is where the first NFL game was held almost a century ago (Oct. 3, 1920) between the Dayton Triangles and Columbus Panhandles.
“We’re most excited about the field the NFL is investing in at Triangle Park, because this will be something the community will use for years to come,” Whaley said. “This is a sports town, so to have that asset in the center of the city is a real big deal.”
But local Native American leader Guy Jones told this news organization that he believes based on historical maps that parts of Triangle Park are American Indian burial grounds.
Jones urged construction on the park to be suspended until further study to avoid disturbing any remains.
The city confirmed late Friday that the groundbreaking ceremony has been postponed until further notice.
“We are not doing the ground breaking,” Whaley said, adding the city is checking into the claims.
The new professional football-sized turf field is valued at about $440,000. The city does not own any other turf fields, officials say.
Descendants of the Dayton Triangle players are expected to take part in today’s celebration.
Past and current NFL players also may attend today’s draft event, but there were no names confirmed Friday.
The NFL draft has seven rounds. Some star players have been chosen in the later rounds.
Antonio Brown, one of the best wide receivers currently in the game, was selected in the sixth round. So was Tom Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play.
Bernard Scott and Rex Burkhead, former Bengals running backs, were picked in the sixth round.
The Bengals have 11 picks in the draft, and this is the first time the team has ever had five picks in a single round, according to Bengals.com.
Ridge Avenue, including the bridge at Riverside Drive, will be closed to traffic from Embury Park Drive to Riverside Drive because of today’s events.
Ticket holders are encouraged to park at the city lot at the northwest corner of Monument and Keowee in downtown Dayton and take a shuttle service to Triangle Park.
Alternative parking will be at Kettering Field: Event attendees can get to Triangle Park using the pedestrian bridge at the north end of Island MetroPark.
Deweese Parkway will be closed to traffic from Ridge Avenue to the Boonshoft Museum. The museum access will be available from the north.
STATEMENT FROM THE CITY OF DAYTON
Late Friday night, the city issued this statement regarding the delay in groundbreaking for a new turf football field donated by the NFL:
“The 62-acre site known as Triangle Park has existed for more than 100 years. Out of an abundance of caution and respect for a concern raised this week, the City of Dayton is gathering more information before commencing construction.
“The City will consult with local archaeological resources and members of the Native American community to ensure an inclusive process that is respectful and consistent with construction best practices. The City of Dayton has already conferred with the State Historic Preservation Office, a division of Ohio History Connection, which confirmed that there are two known sites in the park where mounds once existed and remains were recovered.
“However, SHPO said these sites are not located in the vicinity of the proposed field but are in fact a considerable distance away.”