May 25, 2024 4:20 pm
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Detroit smashes attendance record for the NFL Draft

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BY: ANDREW ROTH 

When it was announced in April 2022 that Detroit would host the 2024 NFL Draft, it came with a challenge from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Just so you know, Nashville hosted a few years ago and had 600,000 people in those three days at the Draft,” Goodell said. “So, you have your challenge, Detroit.”

This weekend, Detroit rose to that challenge.

The first round of the NFL Draft, held Thursday night, set the single-day attendance record with 275,000 people in attendance, Goodell announced from the stage in Campus Martius. General admission attendance to the massive Draft Experience footprint — spanning from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius — was halted Thursday night shortly after 6:30 pm, before the first picks were made at 8 pm.

The Draft Experience hit capacity again Friday at 6:40 pm, with guests being encouraged to visit alternate viewing areas the NFL set up along Woodward Ave., Beacon Park, Capitol Park, Grand Circus Park and Harmonie Park.

And on Saturday — the last day of the draft — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told the crowd that Detroit had broken the attendance record with more than 700,000 people.

“It has been a historic week here in the great city of Detroit,” Whitmer said. “We have shown the world what the Motor City is all about.”

Before the first picks were made Thursday, fans were treated to a performance by Detroit rapper Big Sean and special appearances by Eminem and Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders.

While Honolulu Blue was the predominant color among attendees, fans of teams across the country were easily visible throughout the Draft Experience.

It was not uncommon to hear remarks from locals and out-of-towners alike about how seeing so many people downtown shifted their perceptions of the city, driving home Detroit’s recovery.

Several local businesses had food options throughout the Draft Experience and alternate viewing areas, highlighting some of Detroit’s favorite cuisine options.

The opulent Fox Theatre served as the host for the red carpet, where 13 prospects walked past numerous media outlets for photos and interviews.

The Dodge Fountain in Hart Plaza impressed audiences for the first few hours Thursday, following a multi-million dollar renovation to get it ready for the Draft, but was eventually turned off at the request of the NFL due to high wind speeds.

Michigan Central Station, which is set to reopen in June after a massive renovation of the building that was once an icon of Detroit but eventually turned into a symbol of its decay after sitting abandoned for many years, was illuminated blue during the event.

This article is republished from the Michigan Advance under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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