The National Football League has just wrapped up another season with its annual championship game, the Super Bowl, held this year in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2018 the world’s biggest sporting event will make its way to Detroit and the soon-to-be home of the Lions, Ford Field. The City will need to make noticeable progress in the next four years in order to be prepared for the game, the festivities surrounding Super Bowl week, the added security requirements that are now a reality, and the throngs of people that will descend on Detroit to partake in it all. Bringing the Super Bowl to Detroit will give the City its chance to present itself to the world as a new destination-city – as a place to come for conventions, vacations, entertainment, culture, the arts, and cuisine. Starting with the introduction of casino gaming to the City, Detroit is making progress and needs to keep the momentum moving forward.
The three casinos in Detroit contributed roughly $100 million to the City over the past year, are popular forms of entertainment, and have already helped to spur the City’s economy. The casinos can be viewed as the first step in returning Detroit to the coveted, destination-city status. The next step for the casinos is to construct, and consequently move into, permanent facilities, including hotels, conference accommodations, and restaurants. This step must and will come, and when it does it will be another welcome step toward the ultimate goal for the City.
On January 28, 2018, the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that it will be drafting a 10-year plan that will turn Detroit and southeastern Michigan into a renowned destination for travelers. The Bureau has created a 37-page marketing plan for the City, facilitated panel discussions between political leaders, including Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, and Dearborn Mayor Michael Guido, to name a few, and has organized the region’s first public hospitality trade show. The Bureau has also discussed the creation of events unique to Detroit and the surrounding area in an attempt to draw visitors. Of course, the 2018 Super Bowl will be a major event, and the Bureau will address this issue as it nears. The 10-year plan is set to be released in the coming months, and will be carried out by an appointed council made up of public and private leaders. Surely, Detroit’s casinos should play a key part in the planning and promoting of Detroit and southeastern Michigan as a tourist destination.
Also on the horizon, the new $1.2 billion Northwest air terminal at the Detroit airport is expected to open February 24, 2018. The terminal will join the ranks of the best airports in the nation. It features elegance and ease, restaurants and hotel rooms, and offers flying efficiency by providing more flights and fewer delays. By late this year or early next year, the terminal will boast a 404-room Westin Hotel with a ballroom, conference center, business center, fine-dining restaurant, health club and pool. The addition of a world-class airport will improve visitors experiences in the Detroit area and will make transportation in and out of the City easier and more pleasant.
Another positive point for the City of Detroit and its bid to become a tourist destination-city is the recent revelation that both Oakland and Wayne counties received high marks for their county governments. A study conducted by the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University and Governing magazine examined the governmental operations of 40 large counties nationally. Oakland County was awarded a grade of B and Wayne County received a B-, tied for 5th place and tied for 13th place, respectively, out of the 40 counties studied nationally. Coming from a well-respected study, these rankings are promising and a nice place to start in looking to the future for the City of Detroit.
To help Detroit out further, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, fresh from being sworn in, has begun his “emergency city-wide cleanup program.” The program plans to address Detroit’s dilemma of vacant, abandoned, and condemned buildings by demolishing them and discarding the debris. He started the program just before February 1, by first tearing down any buildings that are too close to schools. The significance of this program can’t be understated for Detroit schools and neighborhoods, but just as important to the City and its future is the simple fact that Mayor Kilpatrick has taken action and done it quickly. This is reassuring for many aspects of Detroit’s improvement, including the three casinos and their permanent facilities.
MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino are an important part of Detroit’s rebuilding effort. They bring both revenue and entertainment to the City, and offer much more than just gambling. With the new airport terminal, the Tourism Bureau’s 10-year plan, a new, young, energetic Mayor, and above average county government, Detroit has a strong team to bring the City to true tourist destination status. And who knows, by 2018, hopefully Detroit will have moved beyond a City going through a “renaissance” into just a surprisingly great place to visit.