Axios Detroit

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Nothing at all going on today, just a normal day…

☀️ Today's weather: Sunny, with a high near 64.

🎂 Happy early birthday to our Axios Detroit member Kevin Yarows!

Today's newsletter is 869 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Delano Massey and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: Detroit in primetime

The Lions' Honolulu Boom drumline performs on Jefferson Avenue. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

Day one of the 2024 NFL Draft yesterday was a 12-hour celebration of the city of Detroit.

Why it matters: Detroit made NFL history, breaking the league's day-one draft attendance record with more than 275,000 people.

  • The event reached capacity around 7pm and gates were closed.

The big picture: Thousands of fans in a sea of Honolulu Blue — speckled with rival fans in yellow, brown, navy and other NFL team colors — strolled Woodward Avenue and Hart Plaza for hours yesterday. They posed with famous players' jerseys and giant helmets, collected swag and autographs, and made observations about the city around them.

The view down Woodward, crowded with people.
A southbound view down Woodward Avenue. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

The Axios Detroit team surveyed the scene, collecting observations from attendees of an event billed as a game-changer for a recovering city a decade post-bankruptcy.

What they're saying: "The amount of things happening down here for this, to get every team and city represented in the way they have, it's amazing," Lanny Pizzingrilli, who drove to Detroit from Ontario, Canada, for the first round yesterday, tells Axios.

  • Pizzingrilli has been to Detroit for Red Wings games at Joe Louis Arena, but he says the scene yesterday couldn't compare.
  • "Never seen anything like this," he says.

Hart Plaza's attractions included a Super Bowl ring display, the Vince Lombardi Trophy, an autograph stage and a football-toss game.

Jets superfan Frank West, who has been to recent NFL drafts in Las Vegas and Kansas City, told Axios he was impressed with Detroit's layout because it's walkable. "They did a really nice job here," West said.

A man holding his fist up.
Jets fan Frank West waits in line for an official NFL Draft hat ($50.99). Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

By the numbers: The city spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting cleaned up for the monumental event now underway, while the NFL's budget for the draft was $25 million. The city spent $430,000 on gateway signage, including the "DETROIT" sign on I-94.

  • It also spent $230,000 from the general fund on City Walls murals, including the large cleats dotted through downtown, plus murals at People Mover stations and on electrical transformer boxes to dress them up.
  • $1.5 million was spent from the city's Street Fund, a share of the gas tax revenues, on traffic signal improvements, tree plantings and median work.
  • Another $3,000 was spent on hosting business certification fairs for minority- and women-owned businesses, through which more than 300 businesses became certified.

The bottom line: Visitors and residents alike told Axios that the scene downtown was unlike anything they've ever seen.

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2. Lions trade up for cornerback

Terrion Arnold celebrates with Lions fans. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Lions fans got a surprise last night when the team traded up five picks to draft Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold with the 24th pick.

Why it matters: Arnold is considered one of the draft's best cornerbacks and should give Detroit's pass defense a needed boost.

What they're saying: "I just want to say, Detroit, y'all got a star, man. I'm home, man!" he told the NFL Network after getting drafted.

Between the lines: Before Detroit picked, watching the division rival Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings draft their quarterbacks of the future was a little unsettling.

Zoom in: The Vikings traded up to the No. 10 pick to nab U of M quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

The bottom line: Detroit capped a wild draft day with an exciting pick that makes a lot of sense.

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3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

💰 The total compensation of Mat Ishbia, CEO of mortgage giant UWM, grew by 75% last year, while his company saw a net loss. (Crain's)

🚨 The police investigation into the killing of a doctor found in his Boston-Edison home remains open more than a year later. Chief James White said in November he hoped to make an announcement soon in the case, but developments have not been made public. (WDIV)

🌅 Mackinac Island's Mission Point Resort has a new webcam that will share with the public views of sunrises and sunsets over Lake Huron, or possibly freighters sailing the Great Lakes. (Free Press)

4. Food, but not fast

Spaghetti with meatballs ($12) from the Mom's Spaghetti food truck at Campus Martius. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

Dozens of local restaurants are offering draft attendees a wealth of options — but don't expect to grab a quick bite.

Why it matters: There are long lines for the fan zone's "Taste of Detroit" booths, but you can likely find any food you want if you're willing to wait — burgers, falafel and more from 20-plus restaurants, including Detroit 75 Kitchen, Good Vibes Lounge and Louisiana Creole Gumbo.

Lines at the few food trucks at Campus Martius were also long and slow-moving yesterday afternoon.

  • Mike Stevenson, 61, of Canton, told Axios he expected more options. He wasn't even sure what type of food he was in line to eat: "We think it's Mexican," Stevenson said.
  • "It's been a goose egg. I'm not a whiner," Stevenson said. "I thought there'd be food trucks all over the place."
A man with his wings. Six wings of different flavors.
Jordan Balduf of Side Biscuit based in Ann Arbor poses with a menu in front of his wing flight, featuring blueberry BBQ, Brogarashi and cracked table wings. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Zoom out: Outside of the draft footprint, Side Biscuit next to the Siren Hotel served up some flavorful blueberry BBQ and Brogarashi wings for a $15 wing flight.

💭 Annalise's thought bubble: My inherited line allergy led me to the booth without a wait — local bakery Good Cake and Bakes. Their cakes never fail to impress, and the cookie butter cake jar I scarfed down was no exception.

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Our picks:

🦹 Joe agrees that the NFL Draft is like a ComicCon for football.

🫠 Annalise got her fill of sports mania.

​​👟 Sam is still walking around downtown.