Tom Lewand is in his 19th season with the Detroit Lions, fifth as president, and oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations while guiding the overall direction of the franchise.
On a League-wide level, Lewand contributes to several key business and labor initiatives. He serves on the Super Bowl Advisory Committee and the NFL Management Council’s Club Executives Committee, and was on the Committee on Revenue Sharing and Special Committee on League Economics. Lewand represents the organization for all NFL-level business matters.
Lewand is also the team’s chief player contract negotiator. He has negotiated contracts totaling more than $1.5 billion, including some of the NFL’s more extensive and complex contracts. He led the efforts to re-sign All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson in 2012 to the highest contract ever signed by a receiver in League history and to ink QB Matthew Stafford and DT Ndamukong Suh. Additional contract highlights include: the Lions’ last 21 first-round draft choices, Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders’ last NFL contract, the contracts of several Pro Bowl players and recent key free agent acquisitions.
Since 2009, the Lions have achieved the NFL’s largest growth in both total season ticket holders and percentage of Club Seats sold. The team has sold out 23 of their last 24 home games, including the past 21, while setting new season attendance records for Lions games at Ford Field. Throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons the Lions attracted over 1,000,000 fans along with the 12 largest Lions crowds in the stadium’s 11-year history.
When the Lions defeated the Chicago Bears 24-13 on October 1, 2011 during its first Monday Night Football appearance since 2001, the team claimed victory in front of a Ford Field record crowd (67,891) for a Lions home game.
In 2010, attendance to Lions games increased 14-percent. It was the largest increase by any NFC team, and Detroit was one of only two teams in the NFL to experience a double-digit increase in ticket sales.
Seeking opportunities to reach and communicate with more fans, Lewand emphasizes the importance of growing fan interaction through digital media. In the past year, the team has attracted over 7 million combined unique visitors to Detroitlions.com and engaged fans on various social media and mobile app platforms.
Establishing the Lions as a great partner in the community has remained a top priority for Lewand. In September 2012, the Lions launched its new Living for the City philanthropic program that produces transformational efforts that improve the well-being of metro Detroit’s underserved communities by focusing on sustainable health and wellness initiatives and community development. Living for the City supports organizations that pursue integrated approaches to physical fitness, healthy eating, housing, land use and environmental planning, public transportation, community infrastructure, and aligned workforce opportunities.
In 2009, Lewand completed two major initiatives that continue to help transform the Lions business operations. The Lions unveiled a new comprehensive brand that launched changes to the team’s logo and uniforms, a new team logotype and font and streamlined branding elements. The evolution of the Lions brand is the most complete and all-encompassing modification in franchise history. The new brand now extends beyond the logo on the helmet and presents a consistent visual identity in new, versatile and distinctive ways.
Additionally that year, the team partnered with MainGate on a 10-year exclusive retail and merchandising agreement. The partnership focuses on providing greater service to Lions fans and consumers, including significant improvements to the organization’s retail operations. Headlining the overhaul was the re-vamped team store at Ford Field, now known as “Lions Pro Shop,” and the re-launch of the Lions’ online store, Detroitlionsstore.com.
Lewand also leads in the procurement of all events at Ford Field, including college football, MHSAA high school football, concerts, motorsports and various trade shows. Few venues in the U.S. host as many football events of all levels as does Ford Field, filling virtually every weekend in the Fall. In any given year, approximately 14 high school, college and NFL games are played at Ford Field from Thanksgiving Day through December. Lewand and the Lions are currently working with the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference to launch a new college bowl game at Ford Field in 2014.
Ford Field dazzled in 2006 when the city of Detroit hosted Super Bowl XL. Lewand served as the point person for the Lions and Ford Field on the Host Committee for Super Bowl XL, and he was among the key figures leading the city’s hosting of the game and events surrounding Super Bowl XL, which was widely-acclaimed as successful and critical to Detroit’s future growth. Super Bowl XL injected a $260 million economic boost to the Metro Detroit region.
Behind Lewand’s leadership, Ford Field once again stepped to the forefront in April 2009 as Detroit, for the first time, hosted the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. The championship culminated six years of planning, including Lewand representing the organization in a partnership with the NCAA to present the Final Four in a groundbreaking manner that has set the standard for all future sites. The event featured a first for the Final Four—a center-stadium configuration that utilized the entire stadium seating structure along with customized risers. Ford Field broke long-standing records, including: attendance for the practice session on Final Four Friday (nearly 30,000), the National Semifinals (72,456) and National Championship game (72,992). Overall, a record 145,378 fans attended the Final Four, creating an estimated $30-50 million impact on the city of Detroit and the metro area.
Lewand possesses a strong educational background, having received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1991, and completing both his Juris Doctor at the University of Michigan Law School and his Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan Business School in 1996. Lewand aided the Michigan football program in various capacities on a volunteer basis while attending the school. He also worked for the Lions on a part-time basis while completing work on his graduate degrees.
In 1991, Lewand served as an environmental advisor for the Governor of Indiana, Evan Bayh. Following a year in that position, he entered graduate school at Michigan. He spent time working for the law firm of Dickinson Wright in Detroit, and the Chicago law firm of Kirkland and Ellis. In the summer of 1993, he worked in the White House in the Counsel’s Office for Presidential Personnel.
Lewand’s family history is entrenched in the Detroit area community. His father, F. Thomas Lewand, works as an attorney and was both the Chief of Staff for former Governor James Blanchard and the Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. His late grandfather, Joseph B. Sullivan, was a judge in the Michigan Court of Appeals and was the deputy mayor of Detroit in the 1960s.
Lewand is active in the community, acting as Past Chairman of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau and serving on the Boards of Directors of the Detroit Zoological Society, the Downtown Detroit Partnership, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the Parade Company.
In a collaborative effort to reduce and prevent youth sports concussions, Lewand represented the Lions and the organization’s work with Michigan legislators, the NFL and various youth sports organizations to pass state laws that have implemented concussion education and awareness programs along with a medical protocol for young athletes to return to action.
Lewand also is on the Corporate Advisory Board for the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Lewand was named as one of Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40” in 1998, which honored and recognized 40 top business people in the Detroit area under the age of 40. Lewand has also been recognized nationally twice, in 2003 and 2005, by the Sports Business Journal as one of the top “40 Under 40” sports executives in the United States.
He and his wife, Suzanne, have four daughters: Cayleigh, Paige, Shannon and Erin.