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What Does Detroit Hosting the 2024 NFL Draft Mean to the City?

Visit Detroit Hosted a Pregame Huddle Featuring the NFL Commissioner to Find Out


In 98 days, Detroit will play host to over 300,000 football fans from all over the country, creating an expected economic impact of upwards of $150 million. Further, an estimated 60 million viewers will tune in on their TVs.

on April 25 – 27 one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year comes to the Motor City and will put Detroit on a huge national stage. It is the NFL Draft. With this event, Mayor Mike Duggan has been quoted as saying he “wants to change the image of Detroit in people’s minds once and for all.”

It’s a tall order, but the city, Visit Detroit, the NFL, and multiple other entities have been working since March 22, 2023, when Detroit was chosen to host, knowing that these three days in April could flip the script across the country regarding the way people view Detroit.

The area around Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza will serve as the event site, which will include the NFL Draft Experience – an interactive football theme park providing fans a free opportunity to take part in participatory games, interactive exhibits, musical performances, autograph sessions, and take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.IMG 1012

In an effort to offer neighborhoods and communities around downtown Detroit involvement, the city of Detroit and Visit Detroit has created an “On the Clock Tour” event program. The tour kicked off on January 13 and will run until April 2024 featuring food trucks, arcade-style games, arts and credits, football-themed stations, and visits from Roary the Detroit Lions mascot.

Further, the Detroit Sports Commission and Visit Detroit will contribute $1 million to community initiatives to support youth groups in the city focused on two main causes: addressing the youth literacy gap in Detroit and providing equitable sports opportunities for young people, especially girls, to participate in.

On Wednesday, Visit Detroit hosted a Pregame Huddle as part of their 2024 Annual Partner Meeting and Detroitisit was there. The event included an interview by NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, focused on the significance of this year’s draft and what it means for the nation’s football fans. This was followed by a panel discussion about how the three-day draft will benefit Detroit Michiganders. The panel included Claude Molinari, president and CEO of Visit Detroit; Rod Wood, Detroit Lions president and CEO; Kai Bowman, chief operating officer of the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance; and Alexis Wiley, former chief of staff to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, now CEO of Moment Strategies public relations.

Tirico kicked things off by saying “This is a great time to be a Detroiter and there are so many things ahead for this city and the Lions.”

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Following are takeaways from his interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:

Tirico: What does the power of the league mean to states and cities?

Goodell: Nobody can bring a community together like NFL football. Beyond home games where people come together, it’s a platform of influence. We saw it during 9/11 and COVID – people looked to the NFL to see how we would operate and respond. The league is in a position to influence society.

Tirico: When big events come to town sometimes local and minority-owned businesses are not embraced. How is this being addressed?

Goodell: Diversity makes us better. We want to share this event with everyone from the people who watch, to the people who work to make it happen to the businesses in the community. So we have a Business Connect Program to ensure that everyone has a piece of the success.

Tirico: Why was Detroit selected to host the draft?

Goodell: Detroit has this can-do spirit. The Lions organization and the City believe this community should be the stage and they pursued it. They committed to doing it, and doing it in a way the community and the NFL will be proud of, so there was no hesitation in choosing Detroit.

And the most important thing is for Detroit to do it your way. We want this to be executed Detroit-style. Show off the Detroit fans and the community and the passion and let people understand what Detroit is all about.

Tirico: From your perspective, what does the Lion’s success this season and hosting draft mean to the city?

Goodell: It’s a tribute to this community. None of this happens without hard work. It’s hard to win games in the NFL. The fans, the players, and the organization have passion and commitment and it’s great that it is coming together for the city.

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Following are takeaways from the Panel:

Molinari: There are six NFL cities within a four-hour drive of Detroit. We are excited about what that can mean for attendance. We could never afford an advertisement like that. Our research estimates that every time there is a Lions home game it’s worth a 10% boost in occupancy for hotels. The two playoff games translate to a $22 million economic impact.

Bowman: For the small business community this is a huge opportunity. And there is excitement and some trepidation. We are working with the businesses to make sure they are ready and can execute.

Wood: This is a great moment for the city to be rewarded with this precious asset.

Wiley: This is an unprecedented opportunity to tell our story to the world and we don’t often get that chance. We all need to embrace it and be ambassadors of Detroit.

Molinari: When a brand like the NFL chooses you for one of the biggest sporting events, that’s great validation. It raises the level.


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