For many sports fanatics, an event many look forward to in the near future is the NFL Draft. The NFL canceled the event in Las Vegas but is still committed to doing the draft virtually. Each NFL team will operate digitally and adhere to the appropriate social distancing guidelines from their selected remote locations, as team facilities are closed as well.
As teams work tirelessly on their draft boards, they now have to plan for an added variable: Where do we host our draft headquarters? Thankfully, the decision was easy for the New Orleans Saints, whose owner, Gayle Benson, also happens to own Dixie Beer. Putting the two together made sense.
Saint’s Head Coach Sean Payton, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, announced the news on a recent conference call. The Saints plan to host small draft-related meetings leading up to the event, which starts on April 23rd, with the Dixie Beer space becoming their remote draft headquarters during the three-day event afterward.
According to Dixie general manager Jim Birch, the plan came together quickly as people continue to adjust and alter their plans due to our new, socially-distant reality.
“The idea came up very last minute when the NFL provided the teams with guidance on what could or could not happen at their facilities. Since Mrs. Benson owns Dixie, we thought the best option to minimize disruption and offer a safe environment for a small portion of the senior team personnel to conduct the draft would be to use our event facilities.”
The event space the Saints will use is 2,000 square feet, is equipped with the necessary A/V capabilities, and can accommodate over 200 people standing. That said, Birch says the room will fit less than five people in compliance with current social distancing requirements.
While Birch says their production brewery is still up and running, their retail spaces are closed and that the personnel of both Dixie and the Saints will not mix at any time — they even have separate entrances and exits. The Saints staff also won’t be sipping on Dixie staples like Dixie Light and Crimson Voodoo during the NFL draft. “This is literally just a space for them to use to conduct business in a safe environment,” says Birch.
Social distancing measures might limit personal contact, but they cannot limit the embrace of a community. The Saints are a vital part of NOLA culture and Dixie Beer is a big part of their vibrant craft beer. It’s nice to see both institutions helping and supporting each other during the ongoing unknown. Here’s hoping Payton and crew are able to sip on some Dixie staples at next year’s draft amidst thousands of NFL fans.