Thursday, May 23, 2024

Going to the NFL Draft in Detroit? Know about where to park, security, maps, and getting around

HomeSports NewsGoing to the NFL Draft in Detroit? Know about where to park,...

Detroit, MI – The Motor City is revving its engines as it prepares to host the biggest event in American football – the 2024 NFL Draft. From April 25th to 27th, all eyes will be on downtown Detroit as the next crop of NFL superstars find their professional homes.

This is the first time Detroit has hosted the draft, and the city is going all out. The Draft Theater stage will be erected in the iconic Campus Martius park, while the NFL Draft Experience fan festival stretches down to Hart Plaza along the Detroit River. The sprawling draft footprint will take over Woodward Avenue all the way to Jefferson Avenue.

“It’s a massive undertaking, but Detroit is more than ready to show why it deserves to be the center of the football universe for this year’s draft,” said Kat Bowl, spokesperson for the Detroit Sports Commission. “We’ve been planning this for years, and downtown is being totally transformed into an unbelievable football fan experience.”

Getting to the Draft

With hundreds of thousands of fans expected to descend on the city, getting around will be a challenge. Road closures around the draft site will be extensive, including Woodward from I-75 to Campus Martius and Jefferson from Huntington Place to the Renaissance Center. Many other streets will also be blocked off.

That’s why transportation officials are urging attendees to avoid driving altogether if possible. “If you can take public transit, do it,” said Doug Barker of the Detroit Department of Transportation. “Between the massive crowds and all the closures, driving downtown will be a nightmare.”

For those taking buses or the QLine streetcar, park-and-ride lots have been designated around the city with transit connections. These include parking at WSU, New Center, near the Amsterdam QLine stop, and more. Full details are available on the NFL Draft website.

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The DDOT SMART bus system will operate over a dozen special “FAST” shuttle routes providing direct service to the draft from suburbs in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties. The iconic Detroit People Mover elevated rail will also run 24 hours during draft weekend to help fans traverse downtown easily.

Getting Into the Draft

To access any of the draft venues, attendees will need to download the free NFL OnePass app on their phones and register. The app will serve as the ticket into the Draft Theater, NFL Draft Experience, and other draft attractions.

Security will be extremely tight, with a lengthy list of prohibited items that includes any kind of weapon, outside food and drinks, drones, lasers, and numerous other potential hazards. Clear bag policies will be enforced, allowing only small clear plastic or vinyl bags no larger than 12x6x12 inches. Small clutches and diaper bags are permitted.

“Safety for everyone is our top priority,” said Detroit Police Chief Hakeem Jeffries. “We have a robust security plan in place working with law enforcement partners from across the state. We want families to feel safe while enjoying this celebration of football.”

What to Expect

The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft will kick off around 8pm on Thursday, April 25th, when teams will select the best college players to join their franchises. Rounds 2 and 3 will follow on Friday the 26th, with the remaining rounds happening on Saturday the 27th.

In addition to the on-stage draft proceedings, the NFL Draft Experience at Hart Plaza promises to be a football fantasy land. Interactive games, virtual reality experiences, autograph sessions with NFL legends, and a Super Bowl championship museum are just a few of the attractions packed into the 25-acre area.

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“The Draft Experience gives fans a chance to truly immerse themselves in the NFL like never before,” said Amanda Keys, VP of EventPresentation for the NFL. “Young and old, even if you’re just a casual fan, there will be something here for everyone to create amazing memories.”

The weather forecast calls for mild spring temperatures, with highs around 60F Thursday and Friday and chances of rain over the weekend. Layers are recommended for those spending long hours outside.

Hosting Challenges

Pulling off an event of this scale is an immense challenge that Detroit has embraced head on. The logistical hurdles involved in shutting down a large swath of downtown, providing transportation for over 600,000 expected visitors, ensuring security, and coordinating between the NFL and numerous city agencies have been years in the making.

“This is bigger than hosting a Super Bowl in terms of the time span and area that needs to be secured and managed,” said Peter Bingaman of the Detroit Police Department’s Homeland Security Division. “It’s taken a massive joint effort between law enforcement, transportation departments, the NFL security teams, and really every branch of city government.”

Representatives from cities that recently hosted drafts like Las Vegas, Cleveland, and Nashville have provided insights to Detroit planners on what to expect and how to prepare. The NFL has over 30 staffers on the ground working directly with the Host City Committee.

“The draft is one of the biggest events the NFL puts on every year, our only event currently held in transit that moves to a new city each time” said NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy. “Detroit has seen what’s worked well and not so well in other host cities, and seems to have implemented best practices and innovative approaches across the board.”

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A Major Stage

For Detroit, serving as Draft Town 2024 is a chance to reintroduce itself to the country as a revitalized 21st-century city. The decades of population decline, urban blight, and economic turmoil that plagued the city are well-documented. But in recent years, Detroit has seen a remarkable resurgence, with billions invested in new development, residential growth, cultural attractions, and more.

Hosting an event as massive and prestigious as the NFL Draft allows Detroit to display its modern amenities and rebranding as an affordable travel destination and hot spot for young professionals and families alike. Expectations are that the draft will provide a $200 million economic impact from visitor spending alone.

“The draft gives Detroit a global spotlight like almost nothing else,” said Mayor Michael Duggan. “For people who maybe haven’t been here in 20 years or have only seen images of abandoned buildings, we can showcase everything this city has to offer now in terms of world-class entertainment, food, hotels, and how much we’ve transformed. It’s going to be three days of Detroit showing the world how incredible we are.”

As the smell of portable grills and waft of beer hangs along the Detroit River, and the cheers go up when the first draft pick is announced, the city will embrace its chance to host this hallmark event and shine as bright as the NFL’s future stars.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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