Monday was a huge day for Detroit, to say the least.
First, the NFL announced that the Detroit Lions would be the team covered in HBO’s popular training camp documentary series “Hard Knocks.” Then a few hours later down at the owners’ meetings in Florida, the league announced that Detroit would be the host city for the 2024 NFL Draft after years of team president Rod Wood pushing for the event.
“Needless to say, this is a great day for us,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said on Monday. “It represents a lot of hard work on part of the Lions and on part of the Detroit Sports Commission and the Mayor. It really is terrifically exciting. I think it will be huge for our wonderful city to showcase itself and our fans. We are very, very proud.”
The NFL Draft will be held in Detroit’s burgeoning Campus Martius Park, weather permitting. As Wood also noted in the press conference, other landmarks around Detroit are also planned to be involved in the week of festivities, including the FOX Theater, Little Caesars Arena, and Ford Field.
For various reasons, both fair and unfair, Detroit—and the Lions—have been given a bad reputation. Ford Hamp is hoping this event will shine a positive light on a city that has been improved significantly over the past decade.
“Very excited about showing off the city for millions of reasons. It’s been a city (…) that’s sometimes overlooked or disparaged for certain reasons, but we all know better, those of us that are there,” Ford Hamp said. “All the wonderful things that are happening there. So we’re very excited to show the world what we’re all about.”
For Detroit and the Lions, the NFL Draft presented a rare opportunity to showcase the city. Detroit got a similar chance back in 2006, when it hosted Super Bowl XL, but Wood noted that it’s unlikely they get another bid to host the championship game in the near future.
“I think it’s unlikely–I’ll never say never–that we’ll have another chance for a Super Bowl,” Wood said Monday. “But the draft has become maybe the next biggest event that the league puts on. So once the draft started moving around and was so successful in other markets, it became something that we really focused on. 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.”