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New committee works to bring major sporting events to Downtown Detroit

Detroit becomes desirable destination for major sporting events

DETROIT – On Feb. 6, 2006, Detroit was the center of the sports universe as it hosted Super Bowl 40 at Ford Field.

Flash forward more than a decade, and there's a new push to bring major sporting events back to the city.

Some of the most powerful Detroit advocates are coming together for a mission to bring big events downtown.

The goal is simply to get more major sporting events in Detroit.

"I think the cities that are really successful at hosting those events on a regular basis have a group like this that are permanently in place so that when an opportunity comes up we're not starting from scratch," Detroit Lions President Rod Wood said.

What specific events might be on the horizon? Don't hold your breath for a Super Bowl, but there are other possibilities.

"Probably the best chance in the near-term would be an NFL draft," Wood said. "I'm very optimistic that we might get that here in the next couple of years."

"Where would that draft be held? Probably at the Ilitches' Fox Theatre," said Tom Wilson, President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. "Then you'd supplement that with other events, probably at Little Caesars Arena. Or if we're able to get the Super Bowl, we'd supplement that with concerns at some of the other venues."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Detroit is in line for an All-Star Game.

"He said, 'You're going to have one. As soon as you're ready to have one, let's sit down and talk about it,'" Wilson said. "But we'll probably use Ford Field."

An NBA All-Star Game might also be on the horizon.

"They've said we're going to get it," Detroit Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem said. "One thing that they commented on that they would like to see is more hotels built in downtown."

The bottom line is that the city of Detroit has become a desirable destination for sports.

"You can look around and say, 'I'm part of this. This is my city, and I can feel proud of every inch of it when we're downtown,'" Wilson said. "That's a pretty exciting thing."

There's a lot of optimism among the group members.

The primary areas of focus are more hotels, mass transit, traffic and parking. As those areas improve all around, Detroit becomes a much more desirable city for big events.

Tellem also talked about a Major League Soccer team. He said the expansion committee for MLS is coming to Detroit next month, and they're going to discuss it further. They believe a Detroit team is on the horizon.

You can watch Steve Garagiola's full story in the video posted above.


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