Mar 6, 2024 - News

The NFL Draft's downtown Detroit footprint

A rendering of the NFL Draft theater.

A rendering of the NFL Draft theater. Courtesy of the Downtown Detroit Partnership

Next month's NFL Draft will cover 2 million square feet of downtown, stretching from Hart Plaza's fan experience zone to the draft stage in the Monroe Street Midway area.

Why it matters: NFL and local officials want the three-day public spectacle from April 25-27 to be more than a glittery introduction to the NFL's next superstars by showcasing Detroit's culture, music and food.

State of play: Key details about the draft's downtown footprint and access for residents and fans were revealed at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

  • Construction of the draft theater begins March 30 at Bedrock's Monroe Street Midway recreation space. The stage where drafted players will be greeted by commissioner Roger Goodell will have a crowded Campus Martius as its backdrop.
  • The footprint extends south along Woodward Avenue and across Spirit Plaza toward Hart Plaza's fan zone.
  • Beacon Park, Capitol Park, Grand Circus Park and other sites surrounding the footprint will be set up as secondary draft attraction sites.
2024 NFL Draft site in downtown Detroit
Data: Visit Detroit; Map: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: Passes to attend the draft for free will be available through the NFL OnePass app or the league's website.

  • The app is already live but registration won't open until about March 19, depending on app store approvals, officials said.
  • The NFL isn't limiting the number of passes, but access could be restricted to places like Campus Martius if capacity is reached.

By the numbers: The league's draft budget is about $25 million.

  • Fans spent about $109 million at last year's draft in Kansas City, which had an announced attendance of 312,000.
  • Between 300,000 and 400,000 fans are expected to attend.
  • More than 70 local businesses are being included in the event's production.

What they're saying: NFL and local event planners told council members they're reaching out to small businesses, nonprofits and community leaders to ensure broad access and participation.

  • "This isn't downtown's draft," Visit Detroit president Claude Molinari said. "This is Detroit's draft."

The other side: Councilperson James Tate said he's awaiting details on how businesses in his district on the northwest side can participate. The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. is working on a plan to connect neighborhoods outside of downtown with tourists here for the draft.

  • "We are champing at the bit to see what businesses are being included," Tate said. "We're on the clock and the clock is ticking."

The intrigue: With the Lions' help, draft events will feature NFL players with Detroit ties.

  • On day three of the draft, an attempt will be made to break the world record for the largest group hustle dance.
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