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Fan support motivated Lions to add cheerleaders

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Lions president Rod Wood: “We’re not trying to compete with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders or any of those other organizations that might have cheerleaders as part of their brand.”

Allen Park – Ultimately, Lions president Rod Wood said Tuesday, strong fan support for cheerleaders pushed the team to change its longstanding opposition toward the additional in-game entertainment.

For now, it’s unclear what exactly the Detroit Lions Cheerleaders will do beyond cheering during games and supporting the team at community events, but Wood said he’d been discussing the possibility with owner Martha Firestone Ford for months before the team made the official announcement on Monday.

“She was involved along with all of her children,” Wood said. “It was something that I approached them about several months ago after feedback from fans and end of the year surveys and focus groups, and asked if they’d be interested in hearing an official proposal on the merits of it. And they said yes, and so we’ve had a number of meetings on it, and that’s when we made the decision to go forward.”

Wood shared a bit more information Tuesday about how the team will usher in the cheerleading squad. The women will be seasonal employees of Ford Field Management, so not directly employed by the team. Wood declined to say how much the women will be paid.

After holding out, Lions finally add cheerleaders

While evaluating the possibility, Wood said he spoke with officials from other teams that have cheerleaders — just six teams are now abstaining. A couple teams even gave the Lions documentation on the hiring process and best practices.

The team hasn’t ruled out having a co-ed cheerleading squad in the future, but Wood said Baltimore is the only team that has one.

And for those waiting for calendars, it’s unclear if or when those will come out.

“We’re not trying to compete with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders or any of those other organizations that might have cheerleaders as part of their brand,” he said. “They’re going to be part of our overall experience, not above and beyond.”

Tryouts for cheerleaders start Saturday, June 25, at Ford Field. Registration is required ($25) and information is available at detroitlions.com/cheerleaders or by calling (313) 262-2300.