The 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit: Just Under 8 Weeks Until Touchdown

For the Detroit Lions, the annual NFL Draft, for the most part over the last 20 years, usually means the team’s first-round picks are anywhere from No. 1 to No. 15 – with a few exceptions – based on the Lions’ low positioning in the final standings season after season. Thanks to the Lions’ miraculous past season, the team has the 29th overall pick in the first round this year; only the Ravens, 49ers, and Chiefs will pick lower in the opening round.

When the Lions make their seven overall picks – Rounds 1 through 7, barring any trades – in the upcoming Draft (April 25- 27), the eyes of the world will be fixated on the NFL and its huge landing in Detroit, the host city of the three-day pro football extravaganza.

With just under eight weeks until the free mega-event kicks off, city, civic, community, business leaders and volunteers are excitingly preparing for the Draft and festivities expected to draw 470,000-plus people to converge on downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius Park, Hart Plaza, and surrounding streets. NFL Draft executives, led by Commissioner Roger Goodell, estimate that between 60 and 70 million people will watch the Draft on ESPN, ABC, and the NFL Network.

“The excitement is building,” said Claude Molinari, Visit Detroit’s President and CEO, after the February release of the Draft’s renderings and plans for events and activities. “With the release of Draft renderings, fans locally and across the nation now have a first look at how the iconic streets of Detroit will provide a remarkable stage for the NFL.”

The centerpiece of the three-day Draft is the “gigantic stage,” which will be set up on Campus Martius. The stage is where draft-eligible collegiate players hope to hear their names called after NFL teams “on the clock” make their respective selections of gridiron talent. Many of the selected collegiate players will grace the “big stage,” holding their new team’s jersey and posing with Goodell.

Other festivities will be in nearby Hart Plaza, where interactive football exhibits, autograph sessions, and musical performances will be held. The downtown streets of Woodward, Jefferson, Monroe, and others are expected to be filled with people throughout the three-day event.

According to Forbes Magazine, last year’s Draft in Kansas City drew more than 312,000 people, with an economic impact of $164.3 million, including direct spending and induced/indirect impact. Detroit officials and economic forecasters believe the Motor City-hosted draft will substantially do better than what Kansas City accomplished, in great part due to the number of NFL cities – six – within a four to six-hour drive from Detroit. Kansas City didn’t have the connectivity to NFL cities in close proximity.

“The draft is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of people to Metro Detroit with an economic impact in the hundreds of millions,” Molinari said. “With so much at stake, city officials and planners are sparing no effort on infrastructure upgrades, beautification, and neighborhood outreach to lure visitors and residents to a sparkling downtown for the NFL Draft. This is going to be a huge event for Detroit and Michigan.”

Several communities across Detroit have already felt the excitement in advance of the 2024 NFL Draft through the “On The Clock Tour,” a 10-stop excursion throughout the seven Detroit neighborhood districts. Four NFL-related experiences/activities, all free, were held in February in city communities, with more scheduled across the city and suburbs in March and April.   The tour stops offer attendees arcade games, arts and crafts, football-themed activities, interactive Detroit Lions inflatables, and an appearance from Roary, the Lions’ mascot.

Black businesses and entrepreneurs in the city and surrounding areas of southeast Michigan will also be a part of the windfall associated with the economic impact expected during the three-day Draft when hundreds of thousands of people will converge on the Motor City. Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance is a significant part of a coalition, which includes the 2024 NFL Draft organizing committee and other local organizations, to ensure there are pathways for local businesses to be certified and considered for contracts related to the Detroit-hosted Draft.

“We’re trying to prepare our Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance members. We are working with the NFL and the Lions to make sure folks are eligible, certified, and prepared,” Kai Bowman, MDBBA’s Chief Operating Officer, said at a Detroit Regional Chamber event earlier in the year regarding the 2024 NFL Draft coming to Detroit. “When I think about the Draft and what it means to our community, it’s one of the biggest opportunities in our lifetime.”

“Detroit will be ready,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “When the NFL fans come here (April 25 – 27), we’re going to treat them to a different and greater experience than they had last year.”


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