To the city of Detroit, brace yourselves. This is not a drill. The NFL Draft could soon be heading to Motown.
Green Bay (GB) Packers team President, Mark Murphy, set Detroit social media on fire Monday morning with some interesting news regarding the 2024 NFL Draft. Murphy told Green Bay’s NBC 26 that GB, Detroit, and Washington D.C. are the three finalists to host that year’s draft. Furthermore, an official announcement could come as soon as the end of this March.
If the NFL selects Detroit as the draft location for 2024, it would mark the first time the league would take place in the Motor City. Now Detroit is no stranger to being a draft location for one (or two) of the four major American professional sports. In 1993, the NBA held its draft at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where the Detroit Pistons formerly played. And before that, the NHL held its 1987 draft at Joe Louis Arena, another now-defunct venue, where the Detroit Red Wings played.
While decision makers ponder over the three locations, I’ll make it easy for them. Detroit is the answer. And it’s not even close.
I have no dog in the fight. Wherever the NFL ultimately decides to hold it, it will be a grand spectacle. They will pull out all the stops to ensure its memorable.
I remember covering the 2019 NFL Draft at Lower Broadway in Nashville, TN. That was the year the Detroit Lions selected T.J. Hockenson with the eight overall pick.It’s a day I won’t forget because Carolina Panthers beat reporter, Sheena Quick, reminds me of it any chance she gets, but that’s another story for another day.
I was unsure of how an outdoor draft coverage would look. The weather was inconsistent. In fact, it rained sporadically that afternoon, including midway through the first round. Fans had ponchos and umbrellas in hand. So because of that, and it being my first draft coverage, I didn’t know what to expect.
Would the NFL take a rain delay if the weather was too unbearable? Would the fans in attendance leave at some point? Again, it was outside. I honestly didn’t know. I was a novice at this point.
None of that happened as we know by now. However, let me walk you through what I witnessed.
The NFL had the draft stage enclosed in a way that prevented the rain from reaching or pouring anywhere on or near its stage. Fans in attendance withstood the elements. They cheered (and booed) right from their bleacher seats, with a clear view of the stage as the rain poured down toward the end of the first round.
It was a beautiful sight to see.
On the streets surrounding the draft location, the NFL transformed several stores into official merchandise locations where fans could purchase memorabilia to commemorate that year’s draft. Neighboring restaurants participated in the fun as well. Some ran incredibly reasonable specials for food and beverages. Others altered their menus specifically for the draft. And if you’re one that’s into entertainment, there was a bevy of local music performances nearby. Nashville had it all.
That could be Detroit.
Detroit’s downtown area is growing by the second. There is an influx of new hotels, restaurants & bars, three casinos, and numerous event venues. Four potential locations that come to mind for the draft in Detroit are The Fox Theater, Campus Martius, Sound Board at Motor City Casino, and obviously Ford Field. I’ll explain why in another piece, but those places could make Motown a realistic and ideal target.
So what about Green Bay or Washington D.C.? Let’s start with Green Bay.
I went to Lambeau Field last season for the first time. And it’s a great city. Their fans love their football. And if the conversation is simply about putting the draft in a football city, Green Bay is a lock. The lore of the stadium hits different than anywhere others I’ve attended besides Michigan Stadium. You know you’re in a historic spot. However, that’s where it stops. Before and after the draft, it’s hit or miss if anyone that’s not from the state will enjoy their time. It’s not as tourist-friendly as previous locations or the other two considerations. From what I witnessed, and anyone can send me a message to correct me, but it’s pretty bland and boring besides a few bars right near Lambeau Field.
And to be clear, I assume Lambeau Field would be the location if the NFL selected Green Bay because I have no idea where else it could be.
So if you ask me, it’s really between Washington D.C. and Detroit.
And I have to admit, Washington D.C. would not be a bad look. I mean, it’s the nation’s capital. That alone, under any normal circumstances, would make D.C. a great pick. However, times are different. In an overly political country at the moment, it might be best to steer clear from there. The last thing the NFL needs is any group of individuals to storm the draft stage. That would be a bad look. Along with that, even though it was many moons ago, D.C. already hosted an NFL draft.The 1941 NFL Draft took place on December 10th, 1940 (not a typo) at the Willard Hotel.
With D.C. already having hosted an NFL draft, and last year’s draft being in the Midwest (Cleveland), why not slide on over to Detroit for the reasons I mentioned.
Detroit is not like any other city in this country. When big events, concerts, conferences, and functions hit the downtown area, businesses and city officials go above and beyond. I think the city of Detroit would put on such a show for the NFL Draft that the league would consider housing it permanently, or at least for an extended duration. Detroit could have a New York-type run of hosting it.
We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks, but the movers and shakers in this city need to get Roger Goodell on the phone. So whether it’s the Ford’s, the Illitich’s, Dan Gilbert, Mat Ishbia, or all of them collectively, make the call. The NFL Draft needs to come to Detroit, period.
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at KoryEWoods.