The Lions had company Tuesday, hosting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on a brief visit to Detroit to tour their newly-renovated home at Ford Field.
But they’ve also got company in bidding to host the NFL draft, a point Goodell made clear during a “fan forum” the Lions held with the commissioner while he was in town.
Lions president Rod Wood confirmed the team has submitted an initial proposal to host the league’s annual draft weekend in 2020 and ’21. He even jokingly made a personal appeal to Goodell.
“I promised him that if the draft came here, no one would boo him,” Wood said, smiling.
Goodell laughed at the pitch, then replied, “That’s not going to work.”
But while he declined to weigh in on the merits of the Lions bid, saying he hadn’t seen the specifics of it yet, he did note Detroit is one of two dozen cities applying to host future drafts. The league moved the annual event away from its traditional home in New York City in 2015, with Chicago hosting it twice and Philadelphia turning it into a huge outdoor affair this past spring, one that Goodell said drew 250,000 fans for the three-day event.
“The commissioner knows we’re interested in having both (the draft and Super Bowl) here,” he said. “There are a lot of other cities, I’m sure, that are interested, but we’re going to give it our best shot. I think the stadium is ready to host a big event like that, and hopefully we’ll get some consideration.”
Wood, who attended April’s draft, has said previously that the Lions’ bid would be a collaborative effort, perhaps using the Fox Theater, Campus Martius and the riverfront as well as Ford Field, which recently underwent $100 million in renovations.
“I assume it is using the stadium in some fashion, and after seeing what I saw today, I think that’s a good thing,” said Goodell, who toured Ford Field with Wood and Lions owner Martha Ford on Tuesday. “But I think it’s also the way they do it with the fans. Obviously, the people in this area are passionate fans and I think that could be a really big positive for us. But it’s also pretty competitive, as I mentioned. We have 24 cities out there looking to host the draft. That’s a good thing on one level, but it’s also a lot of work to try to make sure we try to get to every one of those cities.”