NFL Draft 2024 Gives Detroit Many Ways to Shine

by Jim Vella

CEO & Founder, The Vella Group
Published On: April 23, 2024Categories: Insights

This week, the NFL Draft comes to town, shining a national spotlight on the city of Detroit once again. While predictions vary, local officials estimate this event will draw roughly 300,000 fans to the area and generate hundreds of millions in economic impact. It’s positive news for our city, one that has made great strides since hosting Super Bowl XL in 2006.

But major sporting events like these do more than create economic benefits. They help build a stronger sense of community, and that’s what I find most rewarding. Who can forget the Lions’ amazing playoff run earlier this year? On top of a strong winning season, those hometown playoff victories (many years in the making) fired up new and long-time fans alike and generated a strong sense of Detroit community pride.

Sports have a way of bringing people together, bringing out the best in a community. And this week’s NFL Draft is no exception.

In the months leading up to the draft, local organizations have worked hard to make surrounding neighborhoods part of the excitement. The city partnered with the NFL to launch an “On the Clock Tour” – free events hosted in each neighborhood district since January featuring food, fun and football-related activities. When the draft kicks off later this week, more free events will run at multiple locations all three days, including live broadcasts, games, exhibits and interactive experiences.

In the spirit of giving back, local groups have stepped up to support vital community initiatives. The Detroit Sports Commission and Visit Detroit contributed $1 million to launch a living-legacy initiative. The grant will fund two Detroit-based nonprofits that focus on youth services: Beyond Basics, which provides tutoring programs to raise literacy rates, and Project Play, which works with local sports organizations to encourage active play.

Detroit’s vibrant art scene has also engaged. The DCLEATED art installation features 20 giant-sized football cleat sculptures painted by local artists and placed around the city. Following the draft, each cleat will be auctioned to benefit the artist’s local charity of choice.

Detroit’s on a roll. In many ways, Super Bowl XL jump-started Detroit’s redevelopment. The city then hosted NCAA Men’s Final Four basketball in 2009, saw the return of the Detroit Grand Prix in 2023 and hosted NFL playoff games in January. Next up, the Men’s Final Four tournament in 2027. And I’m sure more will follow.

We’ve proven we can attract and host major sporting events, and I’m hopeful that each event builds on the one before, bringing the Detroit community together for the common good and continuing our story of resurgence and renewal.

Enjoy this week’s NFL Draft activities! Go Lions!

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