NFL backtracks on plan to chop down trees for draft stage

Hunter Gross lies in a hammock under cherry blossom trees in Stanton Park on Capitol Hill, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Washington. Peak bloom is expected April 1, according to the National Park Service. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The NFL was planning to cut down 21 cherry trees to build a temporary stage in Nashville. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The NFL was planning to cut down 21 cherry trees in downtown Nashville to build a temporary stage for the NFL draft, but public outcry has led to a change of plans.

Following a petition that gained nearly 60,000 signatures in three days, Nashville mayor David Briley announced on Saturday that the trees would not be cut down on Monday as planned and would be replanted at a later date.

“After hearing the public response over the planned cutting of 21 of the 68 ornamental cherry trees at Riverfront Park,” Briley said over Twitter, “I informed the NFL and Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. (NCVC) that they will have to remove them intact and replant them in our city.”

The NFL draft will take place in Nashville for the first time on April 25-27 and will be held in lower Broadway near the Cumberland River. The trees needed to be removed to accommodate all the structures the league wanted, although many Nashville residents cried foul at the removal of the trees.

For one, the annual Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival will be held on April 13, and it is a bad look for the league to cut down nearly a third of the trees at Riverfront Park shortly before the festival.

NFL will replant over 200 cherry trees in Nashville

The NFL and NCVC each planned to donate 100 cherry trees to Metro Parks by the spring of 2020, but Briley pushed for more after the vocal opposition to the trees’ removal.

“The NCVC and NFL will replace the removed trees with 21 new ones, and will also plant 17 more at Riverfront Park in previously vacant and new locations,” Briley said. “The NCVC will pay for the relocation and for any sidewalk damage.

“If any trees are found to be diseased or near death when removed, they will be replaced with new, healthy trees.”

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