Lions, Detroit bidding to bring Final Four back

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Orlando, Fla. — Detroit’s bid to host one of the next two NFL drafts fell short, but the city will continue to pursue hosting the event in future years and also is putting the finishing touches on a pitch to bring the Final Four back to the city, according to Lions president Rod Wood.

“We are in the final stages of bidding on another Final Four, to come back to Detroit,” Wood said Monday, during an interview at the NFL’s annual league meeting. “It’s a five-year window, 2023-2026 years. We have a presentation coming up in June around that.”

Ford Field hosted the 2009 Final Four, when Michigan State advanced to the championship game before losing to North Carolina. Wood said the city made a strong impression that weekend, selling out both games in the midst of the great recession and feels Detroit is even better prepared to host now.

As for the NFL Draft, Wood said he was disappointed Detroit wasn’t selected as an upcoming host, but also noted stadium conflicts handcuffed the city’s chances.

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Detroit will be hosting the International Robotics Competition the next several years, and had a direct conflict with the 2019 NFL Draft. There was a similar conflict in 2020, but the competition was willing to move dates with a two-year notice.

That left Detroit as the only one of the eight finalists not able to bid on both years, and with 2020 being the NFL’s centennial anniversary, Wood didn’t feel great about the odds of winning the right to host.

“I think they probably have designs on a whole series of celebrations that might include the draft being in a very specific location.”

Wood said he intends to bid again for the next round of drafts.

“They’re going to start looking at 2021 and beyond and we’ll be right back in the mix for that,” Wood said. “Hopefully we’ll get one of the next two, if not, one shortly thereafter.”