Jan 8, 2024 - News

Spirit of Detroit statue dons Lions jersey

Spirit of Detroit on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

The Spirit of Detroit. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

The Spirit of Detroit is helping fans celebrate the best Lions season in years.

Driving the news: A Lions jersey was installed late Sunday night ahead of the team's upcoming playoff run.

Between the lines: The Detroit-Wayne Joint Building Authority, which owns the iconic statue outside of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, tells Axios it reviews and approves select requests from organizations willing to spend $25,000 to dress the Spirit.

  • The building authority has, however, been forced to add more stringent requirements due to concerns over the statue's well-being.

What they're saying: "Every request is not honored — and we get lots of them," Sharon Banks, a spokesperson for the building authority, tells Axios.

  • "There was a time when we attempted to honor as many as possible but we do have to protect the integrity of the statue."
  • "When the teams win, people want to climb it, so we've got to maintain additional security as well."

Flashback: The Spirit of Detroit first donned a jersey to celebrate the Red Wings' 1997 Stanley Cup title. It's been dressed over the years to celebrate the Tigers, Michigan State football and the Detroit Shock, and has also worn multiple T-shirts, a tuxedo and a COVID-19 mask.

  • Maintenance concerns prompted officials to recommend it only wear jerseys when teams win a national championship, Banks said.

Yes, but: Officials have let it slide for the Lions' first conference championship since 1993.

  • "This one — after 30 plus years, any sense of a championship or being close to it was enough for the good of the community near and far," Banks says.

Of note: The building authority tells Axios that the Lions have paid for the jersey to stay up throughout their playoff run.

Detroit Red Wings fans celebrate the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals championship. The Red Wings beat the Flyers 2-1 in Detroit on June 7, 1997, to win their first league championship in 42 years. (Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
Detroit Red Wings fans celebrate the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals championship. The Red Wings beat the Flyers 2-1 in Detroit on June 7, 1997, to win their first league championship in 42 years. Photo: Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images
Kwame Kilpatrick and his family pose in front of the statue that wears an "'04" Pistons jersey to celebrate the team ahead of the 2004 Finals. (Photo by Allen Einstein via Getty Images)
Former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his family pose in front of the statue that wears an "'04" Pistons jersey to celebrate the team ahead of the 2004 Finals. Photo: Allen Einstein via Getty Images

Editor's note: This story was updated to note the Lions have paid for the jersey to stay up throughout their playoff run.

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