Gov. Whitmer, officials on NFL Draft economics: 'We’re changing the stigma here'

DETROIT (FOX 2) - The first day of the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit is less than 24 hours away.

"I’m really excited about this week here in Detroit. It is just one more chapter in the story that we continue to tell the world," said Michigan Governer Gretchen Whitmer on the eve of the 2024 NFL Draft.

It’s the biggest event the city has hosted since the Super Bowl in 2006.

On Wednesday, Whitmer joined Visit Detroit VP Claude Molinari, VP of NFL Club Business Peter O'Reilly, and Detroit City Councilmember Fred Durhall III for a panel on draft day economics.

"I think the exciting thing about hosting the NFL, and the Lions in particular, is they really are emblematic of who we are. We’ve been knocked down, but we get back up," Whitmer said. "And we get back up stronger than ever."

Molinari estimates the NFL Draft will bring Detroit between $175 million - $200 million in one weekend. The number of visitors expected downtown may help surpass the record-setting total of visits to Detroit in 2023.

"I think to have hundreds of thousands of people in town, and a worldwide TV audience, and all the drone shots – they're going to see of all the skyscrapers, new and old, and all the things that are happening here," Molinari said. "It’s going to change that perception for decades to come."

This big event is a culmination of a 7-year-long vision when city leaders started a partnership to bring the NFL’s second-biggest event to town.

"We have all come together and said ‘we are invested in rebuilding this city,’" Durhall said. "We’re changing the stigma here. Detroit is safe. Detroit is clean. Detroit is open. We invite you to visit."

The big events in the city don’t stop after the draft this week.

In 2027, Detroit will host the NCAA Men's Final Four at Ford Field. Until then, Molinari said he will meet with European investors about bringing overseas business here.

The question of whether or not the Super Bowl could return to Detroit is still up in the air. The NFL's representative said the focus right now should be on "crushing" the next three days.

"If you’re down there these next three days, this experience, this festival if you will, is going to represent all parts of Detroit," O’Reilly said.