Detroit Regional Chamber > Chamber > The Pre-Game Huddle: Visit Detroit, Industry Leaders on 2024 NFL Draft

The Pre-Game Huddle: Visit Detroit, Industry Leaders on 2024 NFL Draft

January 23, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • The Detroit Region has surpassed $1 billion in lodging revenue.
  • The NFL Commission wants the city to execute the Draft “Detroit style” and show off its “can-do spirit” to the estimated 6-7 million visitors.
  • Local business-centric organizations, like Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance, are actively preparing local businesses for the economic and consumer boosts.

On Jan. 17, Visit Detroit hosted its annual partnership meeting at Ford Field to talk about the Detroit Region’s tourism industry and the economic impact of the 2024 NFL Draft, taking place at Campus Martius and Hart Plaza on April 25-27.

“Aggressive” Efforts to Grow the Tourism Industry

Visit Detroit’s Chief Executive Officer Claude Molinari opened the “Pre-Game Huddle” event with a keynote address on the Detroit Region’s tourism industry during 2023. According to him, the Detroit Region surpassed $1 billion in lodging revenue for the first time in Visit Detroit’s 128-year history.

To grow that revenue even more, Molinari said there are “aggressive” efforts to grow downtown lodging options. These efforts are key for the city and Detroit Region to win bids for more big-ticket events – such as the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW in 2028, announced during the keynote– and making sure businesses of all sizes can continue giving visitors stellar experiences, too.

“The success we are experiencing comes down to each and every one of you,” he said. “We know we won’t meet 95% of the visitors, but you [as businesses] will. You are the driving focus that keeps them coming back.” 

RELATED: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Detroit Development 

Do the Draft “Detroit Style” 

NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell followed Molinari for a fireside chat that focused on the NFL’s influential brand and point of view of the upcoming Draft.

Goodell initially decided to take the Draft “on the road” to various U.S. cities each year. Since 2015, the Draft has made million-dollar economic impacts in Nashville, Dallas, and twice in Chicago, among others. Noting that the Commission made “no hesitation” to choose Detroit for this year’s Draft, Goodell said the city and Region can make its Draft successful by “sharing the game and the community with the fans.”

“Everybody’s built on the success and created … their own style and approach that actually highlights the incredible assets of that community,” he said. “Show off this community in the way it deserves… how you’ve come together in the private and public sector. Let’s go kill the Draft, then we’ll take on [the idea of hosting the Super Bowl again] next.”

RELATED: Detroit’s First Word: 2024 NFL Draft to Change the Perception of Detroit 

Getting Communities All In

Following the one-on-one discussion, Molinari returned to the stage with Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance Chief Operating Officer Kai Bowman, Detroit Lions President Rod Wood, and Moment Strategies Principal Alexis Wiley to discuss more on the Draft’s regional impact.

Wood discussed the “many years in the making” that went into getting Detroit to this point, revealing it took two unsuccessful bids for the Draft before recrafting it to make it “truly Detroit.”

“This is the biggest opportunity we’ve had in a decade … to have the national media come here for something good. I think sometimes we don’t talk as positively about our city as we should, and I think we should,” Wiley said. “This is really making sure that everyone feels connected to what’s happening and that the impact goes way beyond downtown.”

“We’re trying to prepare our [Metro-Detroit Black Business Alliance] members and execute. We worked with the NFL [and] the Lions to make sure folks are certified and prepared,” Bowman said. “When I think about the Draft and what it means to our community, to Alexis’ point, it’s one of the biggest opportunities in our lifetimes… make sure Black owners can get a taste of this and how to set them up long term for this.”

Photo credit: Anthony Kabiity