PALM BEACH, Fla. — After more than five years of pursuit, the NFL draft is coming to Detroit.
NFL owners voted to award the 2024 draft to Detroit at the league’s annual meeting Monday, picking the city over other competitive bids from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Washington.
Detroit Lions president Rod Wood first broached the idea of bringing the draft to Detroit in 2017, when he outlined a proposal that would spread the event over several locations throughout the city.
On Monday, Wood said he expects “hundreds of thousands of people” to attend the three-day event.
“I think it’s unlikely, I will never say never, that we’ll have another chance for a Super Bowl, but the draft has become maybe the next biggest event that the league puts on,” Wood said. “And so once the draft started to move around and was so successful in other markets, it became something that we really focused on and so happy that it’s finally happened and hopefully we’ll put on a good enough show that maybe they will consider us for a Super Bowl again.”
Metro Detroit has hosted two Super Bowls in the past 40 years, at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982 and Ford Field in 2006.
The NFL typically awards Super Bowls to warm-weather locations or cities who build new stadiums.
The league held its annual draft in New York for nearly 50 years, but began moving the event among its team cities in 2015.
Since then, the draft has traveled from Chicago (2015-16) to Philadelphia (2017) to Dallas (2018) and Nashville (2019). After a year of virtual drafting due to COVID-19, the draft returned in-person to Cleveland last year.
This year’s draft is April 28-30 in Las Vegas, and the event is scheduled for Kansas City next spring.
Wood said Detroit’s proximity to other NFL cities and major college football fan bases was among the selling points in its bid for the draft.
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Campus Martius Park will serve as the epicenter for the 2024 draft, with Hart Plaza and Fox Theater also involved, Wood said. Music events will take place at Ford Field and Little Caesars Arena, and a fireworks show will be held on the Detroit River.
“Our proposal … was very strong,” said Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp, who is on the NFL’s Super Bowl and Major Events advisory committee, which oversees the bidding process for events like the draft. “I think we really proved to the league that we would put on a great show and how important it is to our city, it’s hugely important, and to our fans. And I think those were some of the big selling points.”
Wood said he expects the draft to have a “significant” economic impact on the city, though he did not provide an estimate of how much money the event will generate.
According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, a report commissioned by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated 250,000 people visited Philadelphia for the 2017 draft and the event generated $94.9 million in economic impact.
“Bringing the 2024 NFL draft to Detroit is a huge win for Detroiters and football fans across the state of Michigan,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a released statement Monday. “It will inject energy into our economy, benefitting countless small businesses and working families in Southeast Michigan. The NFL’s selection is a testament to the Motor City’s hustle and spirit, and I’m so proud that yet another major company has decided to make a historic investment in Michigan since Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist and I took office. I am grateful to all the local leaders, community organizations, and business owners who continue to get things done in Detroit.”
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Said Detroit mayor Mike Duggan in a separate released statement: “We are thrilled the NFL has selected Detroit to host its 2024 draft from among a number of other great candidate cities. Detroit is one of America’s great sports towns with some of the most dedicated and passionate football fans you’ll find anywhere. Holding the draft here will be a perfect opportunity for visitors to experience that energy, along with the world-class entertainment, cultural attractions and international riverfront our city has to offer.”