Detroit takes victory lap after successful draft, even as it was almost derailed

It will take a week to break down the draft and reopen roads downtown before Detroit is fully accessible. The full economic impact of the draft also won't be known for a month or more. 

But in the hours before the draft began, a different story could have unfolded instead of the successful one that city leaders celebrated Monday morning. 

As Mayor Mike Duggan tells the story, he was on a golf cart overseeing the very final preparations around 10 a.m. when he got a call. Chief James White had some bad news: "We're dark."

"I'm telling you, I'm in the real-time crime center, the feed has been cut, we have no camera view of the entire draft footprint," White told Duggan on the call. 

The mayor thought it was a late April Fools Day joke - but it wasn't. And without a way of monitoring the entire crowd that was about to pour into the draft, White told Duggan he wouldn't be comfortable if people started coming in.

The mayor then made a call to David Lewis, who is the CEO of AT&T, who told him to not worry about a thing.

The telecom company would run a back-up line to the police department as a stop-gap as it nursed the larger problem. Officials later learned a separate construction project had cut into a fiber optic cable two hours before the draft started.

The fix was quick enough that people were able to get into the draft a half hour before it was scheduled to start as a result. 

The story was one of many successes to come out of the draft, which will go down as historic for a few reasons. It recorded the highest attendance at a draft ever, which was already known. Police only made two arrests within the footprint during the entire three-day event.

White attributed that to the community supporting the police that were a constant presence during the draft.

And according to Claude Molinari, president of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the week of the draft may have brought "the best hotel revenue week ever" in over a century of tracking that kind of data.

"Our original estimates were between $150-$175 million, I think we're going to go way beyond that," he said, talking about the overall revenue that came to the city. 

It was also a boon for the local businesses that helped put on the production. 

Chef Omar Mitchell, who runs Table No. 2 in Detroit, celebrated his own story in the context of Detroit's larger success in late April.

"This is what the story of Detroit is all about: Someone that was born here, that went to high school here, that have been laying bricks here forever," he said. 

Detroit's Chief of Infrastructure Sam Krassensteim said they expect roads in downtown Detroit to fully reopen on Tuesday, May 7. 


Detroit shines in hosting NFL Draft, shatters attendance records

The NFL posted on its social media Saturday that more than 700,000 people were in attendance for the 3-day event, shattering prior NFL Draft records for total and individual daily attendance.