NFL draft to bring national spotlight to Detroit

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As the 2024 NFL draft approaches, football fans aren’t the only ones anticipating the big event on April 25. For the first time in history, the NFL draft will be held in Detroit, bringing an estimated 300,000 people to the Motor City, according to the Detroit Sports Commission. This major event brings attention to the award-winning Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza, where the draft will be held, and hopefully increase Detroit’s reputation as a tourist destination.

Anna Shabica, manager at Parc, located inside Campus Martius Park, said that downtown businesses are used to the large crowds during concerts and other entertainment events, but the draft will be a whole new experience.

“Being in Detroit we kind of just have to roll with the punches. It’s just part of the game,” Shabica said. “But I think it’ll do tremendous things, not only for our business but for the city of Detroit. Having the draft is just going to bring that sunlight back to the city of Detroit.”

Detroit is known for hosting major sports events, but it has not hosted a national event since Super Bowl XL in 2006.   

Restaurants and bars aren’t the only businesses benefitting from the potential crowds pouring into the city for the upcoming draft. According to the Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit can expect tens of millions of dollars of economic impact from the event. 

Christopher Moyer, senior director of communications at Visit Detroit, is excited for the crowd the NFL draft will bring to the city. 

“The Draft will serve as a catalyst to change people’s outdated perception of Detroit, and propel the city towards more events, more visitors and more investment,” Moyer said.

According to a survey conducted by Cincinnati-based research firm LaVERDAD and conducted on behalf of Downtown Detroit Partnership, the overall perception of Detroit continues to improve in the views of those who work and live in the area. The NFL draft can play a huge role in continuing to improve those perceptions of the city. With the draft being a free event, it is likely more people will attend. The proximity of Detroit to other major NFL cities such as Cincinnati, Chicago and Buffalo, fans from all will be able to attend. 

“The Draft will shine a spotlight on our region, allowing us to enhance our national and international reputation, accelerate equitable investment in our community, and provide a springboard for sustainable progress, showcasing Detroit as an attractive place to live, work, play, and visit,” Moyer said. 

Detroit resident Shannon Driscoll agrees. 

“A lot of people believe Detroit to have a bad rep. It’s an amazing place to live and visit, and I think hosting the draft can change a lot of people’s minds about that,” she said.

Growing up in Detroit, Driscoll has seen the highs and lows of Motor City. She has seen the city come together over the years and major events have played a large role in that. 

“When the Lions had their historic run in the playoffs this past fall, I think that really helped uplift the spirits of people in the area,” she said. “Having playoff games here brought a lot of people from different cities together in Detroit, just like the draft will do.”

Detroit has shown major growth over the years, having the NFL draft downtown can continue to show the improvements the city has made and all the opportunities it has to offer.

“This isn’t downtown’s draft. It’s Detroit’s draft,” Moyer said.

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