(97.1 The Ticket) Back in October, Lions president Rod Wood said he felt “pretty good” about Detroit’s odds of hosting the NFL Draft in the near future.
The Lions had submitted an elaborate proposal to the NFL, highlighting Ford Field, the Fox Theater and the Detroit waterfront as feature locations for the three-day event, and Wood told the Free Press there was “a very, very positive reaction to it.”
But when the five cities deemed finalists to host the 2019 or 2020 draft were revealed on Thursday, Detroit was not among them.
The finalists are Cleveland/Canton, Tennessee, Kansas City, Denver and Las Vegas, according to ESPN. Winners are expected be announced in May.
The Lions, who poured over $100 million worth of renovations into Ford Field last year in an effort to attract either the draft or the Super Bowl to Detroit, with the former being the more probable scenario of the two, will likely turn their attention toward hosting the draft sometime from 2021-23.
“If for some reason we’re not chosen for ’19 or ’20, we would be interested in ’21, ’22, ’23,” Wood said in October.
Wood referenced the ongoing renaissance in downtown Detroit as one of the main selling points in the Lions’ proposal. He felt the team went above and beyond in its pitch to the NFL.
“I don’t know what other cities sent in. … Maybe we had gone a little further along in presenting what we thought we could do than other cities (who) might have just shown two or three pages of a deck. Ours was much longer than that, but I think it shows that we’re serious and we really want it here,” Wood said.
Last year’s draft brought about 250,000 people to Philadelphia, Wood said, and poured more than $100 million into the local economy. For a northern-based city like Detroit that doesn’t have a great chance to land the Super Bowl barring the opening of a new stadium, hosting the draft would be a nice alternative.
“The draft’s economic impact is kind of starting to approach the Super Bowl…with all the hotel rooms and restaurants. People are in town for three or four days. They had 250,000 people at the peak in Philadelphia. I think the benefit to the city could be almost comparable,” Wood said.
For now, Detroit will have to wait.