Apr 23, 2024 - News

NFL Draft guide for Detroit road closures, security, public transit and more

Animated illustration of a rotating line of football helmets in front of the Detroit skyline.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

After years of anticipation, Detroit is ready for the NFL Draft and all the national attention it will bring.

The big picture: The draft is a multiday football celebration stretching across the city, generating hundreds of millions in economic activity and showcasing Detroit to a huge TV audience.

State of play: Downtown was buzzing Monday as workers put finishing touches on Woodward storefronts, landscaping outside hotels and the draft stage near Campus Martius.

What they're saying: "It's got a refreshing vibe," Drew Witz, who is in town from New Jersey setting up a New Balance pop-up store, told Axios on Monday.

  • Witz said the city is much different from his visit in the mid-1990s as an Ohio State student. He plans to try new restaurants while he's here and catch the Cypress Hill concert Tuesday at the Fillmore.
2024 NFL Draft site in downtown Detroit
Data: Visit Detroit; Map: Axios Visuals

Here's basic information you'll need to visit downtown this week.

  • The NFL's OnePass app has draft passes, maps and information about attractions, transportation, prohibited items and more.
  • The draft experience area at Hart Plaza opens at noon Thursday.

Road closures: From 12:01am Wednesday until 6am Sunday, Woodward will be closed from the Fisher Service Drive to Larned, with no east/west traffic allowed to cross between I-75 and Jefferson.

  • Google Maps and Waze have the latest traffic and road closure information for the draft.

Expect security checks coming into the draft footprint. Attendees won't be allowed to bring in bags that don't meet the draft's guidelines:

  • Clear plastic, vinyl or PVC with dimensions no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches. A small nonclear bag up to 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches can be brought in inside a plastic bag.
  • The decor shouldn't be concealing parts of the bag.
  • Gallon-sized clear freezer bags are allowed.
  • Attendees without bags can expect quicker entry.

Alcohol, beach balls, footballs, chairs or other seating, flying discs, noisemakers, tripods, umbrellas, cups, and more will not be allowed in the draft zone.

  • However, attendees can bring empty reusable water bottles and use free water-filling stations.

Police presence: The Detroit Police Department has spent a year workshopping its draft safety plan, WXYZ reported. It's collaborating with the FBI, state and counties and will have K-9 units, a bomb squad, emergency services and dozens of police officers onsite.

  • Police will monitor live cameras across downtown, and have cops undercover and on rooftops, per the Detroit News.
Streets are closed off in downtown Detroit on April 22, 2024, just days before the NFL Draft.
Streets are closed off around Campus Martius. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

Transit during the draft

With thousands of people heading downtown, public transit is a worthwhile option for getting to and around the draft.

The big picture: It's going to be wild — plan ahead.

Street parking will be prohibited in much of the central business district to provide space for police or emergency responders, the city said in a news release.

The QLine with an NFL Draft-themed wrap.
The QLine with an NFL Draft-themed wrap. Photo: Courtesy of the QLine

QLine: The free streetcar plans to operate more frequently during the draft. It runs 8am-midnight Thursday through Saturday.

  • The route will be shorter, with its south end at Sproat Street by Little Ceasars Arena instead of going all the way downtown. From there, visitors can walk or use the People Mover.

Visitors can also park for $5 per vehicle at these locations and ride the QLine down from there:

  • WSU Lot 12: Harper and Woodward, near the Amsterdam station
  • New Center Garage: 116 Lothrop, near the Grand Boulevard station
  • Cass Garage: 6540 Cass Ave., near the Baltimore station
  • John R & Piquette: 6230 John R, near the Amsterdam station

Fan shuttles: Outside usual public transit options, the city also offers park-and-ride shuttles in three places:

  • WSU Structures 1, 5 and 2 are first come, first served at 450 W. Palmer Ave. for $10 per car.
  • The Bagley Mobility Hub at 1501 Wabash St. is $15 per car. Pre-paying is recommended.
  • River East Garage at 214 Rivard St. is also $15 per car and pre-paying is recommended.

SMART buses: Taking SMART buses downtown from various metro locations is also an option for avoiding Detroit traffic, costing $2 per adult one way. They'll drop off and pick up visitors at the Bricktown People Mover station and Fort/Cass People Mover station.

  • Buses will leave designated park-and-ride locations every hour from 9am-3pm all three days.
  • They'll return from downtown 1-11:30pm Thursday and Friday and 1-7:30pm on Saturday.

SMART park-and-ride locations are:

  • Great Lakes Crossing, 4000 Baldwin, Auburn Hills
  • Lakeside Mall, 14000 Lakeside Circle, Sterling Heights
  • Clemens Farmers Market, 141 North River Road
  • Sterling Heights Meijer, 36000 Van Dyke Ave.
  • Troy Civic Center Park and Ride lot, 520 W. Big Beaver Road
  • Oakland Community College Orchard Ridge Campus, 27055 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills
  • Southfield Civic Center bus terminal, 24350 Civic Center Drive
  • Westland Police Department, 36701 Ford Road
  • Fairlane Town Center, 18900 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
  • Lincoln Park Community Center, 3525 Dix Hwy.
  • Southgate Meijer, 16300 Fort St.

DDOT buses will also be running, changing routes to accommodate roads closed downtown.

  • Also, from 8pm Tuesday through 6am Monday, buses coming from the east side will stop at the Bricktown People Mover station and those coming from the west side will stop at Rosa Parks Transit Center.

People Mover: From 7am Thursday through midnight Sunday, the circular rail system with 13 stops will run 24 hours a day. Cars should come every five minutes at most.

  • Rides are free through the end of the year.
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