Mayor Duggan on Why the NFL Draft is a ‘Big Win’ for Detroit

The mayor was among the notable guests at the 2024 NFL Draft Community Celebration in Campus Martius

Community dignitaries, Detroit Lions owner Sheila Hamp, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gathered in Detroit’s Campus Martius Park on Thursday to celebrate the announcement of the Motor City landing the 2024 NFL Draft.

The event included the Lions drumline, cheerleaders, former players Jason Hanson and Lomas Brown, as well as a number of guest speakers — Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, and Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans — to kick off the excitement. The event concluded with the unveiling of an interactive draft display in the park.

During the celebration, Goodell challenged Detroit to break the attendance record for the NFL Draft.Nashville hosted a few years ago and had 600,000 people in those three days at the draft, he said. “So, you have your challenge, Detroit.”

He also discussed the economic stimulus provided by the draft. “When you consider that 60 percent of NFL clubs are within a five-hour drive or two-hour flight, I think another 75 Division 1A (NCAA) school, you know a lot of people are going to be coming in to watch some football that weekend, so we’re expecting a lot of people.

“All of this leads us to a very significant economic impact that we expect, and we have seen already, will be at least $200 million to this community. But maybe the biggest impact will be the media exposure. And while it’s difficult to calculate exactly how much that will be, it will drive a tremendous amount of incalculable visibility for your community. …We’re extremely proud to say that more than $1 million will be invested back into the community by the NFL.”

Following the presentation, Duggan took a few brief questions from the media and spoke to the hope that this is just the beginning for marquee events returning to Detroit. Here’s what he had to say.

What kind of corporate sponsors and sponsorships are you hoping will occur?

Mayor Mike Duggan: We’re about to walk upstairs and start that conversation…but you’re going to see downtown Detroit transformed into a huge party. You’ve seen the crowds in the past cities when it becomes an outdoor celebration, and so can you imagine, the draft here in April, you have the [Detroit] Grand Prix down here in June, and you’ll have the [North American International] Auto Show down here in September, and the Jazz [Festival] after that. It’s just going to be an amazing year in Detroit in 2024.

Do you hope the NFL Draft can help bring more events to Detroit?

Oh, yeah. Every time somebody visits this city, they say, “I can’t believe this is what it looks like, because this isn’t your image.” And this is what we need to do. We need to get people to come here and experience it, because you can’t explain it. And we’re going to get hundreds of thousands of people to come here and experience it in 2024. It’s a great thing.

Do you think it will provide long-term economic impact?

Yeah, I mean, every time you impress people around the country, you start to be in conversations. And that’s all I want. You give me a chance to compete for company, and we’ll win our share, so it’ll be great.

What would it take for another Super Bowl to come to Detroit?

We’ll get it someday. You’ve got a lot of cities competing every year. It’s been 15-16 years, but we’re going to keep competing until we get back in the rotation. We’ll get the Super Bowl back, we’ll get the Final Four back. We’re going to keep at it until we get there.

Is the draft a part of showing what you guys can do?

Yeah, …what [Visit Detroit president and CEO] Claude Molinari and [Detroit Sports Organizing Corp chair] Mark Hollis and the team did — you see things that maybe didn’t get huge attention but drew huge crowds. We just had the NCAA Wrestling Championships here; [it] brought big crowds downtown. They go and compete for these things, week in and week out. We’ve got a great team, and this is a really big win.

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