Incoming NFL Draft's transformation of Detroit has begun

Hundreds of thousands of work hours, 1,200 LED screens and a seven-phase project are just some of the pieces that will go into the transformation of downtown Detroit.

Over the next month, what many locals know as the Monroe Street Midway will see it turn into the stage of the next big event to come to the motor city: the NFL Draft.

For now, it's a giant dusty block with metal scaffolding and a lot of equipment. Several city streets closed around the site last Friday. On the other side of the construction fences, some 300 construction workers are hard at work, molding the space from Campus Martius to Hart Plaza in preparation for the last weekend of April.

While it's a sizable investment for the city and a notable event to host as eyes from around the world tune in, for figures like Jessica Parker, the deputy chief operations officer from the mayor's office, it means something more.

"I’m a long-time Detroiter. I went to the University of Detroit Mercy, and seeing my family, friends, coworkers excited about this - just knowing that the city is part of the draft - it’s not just the NFL and NFL fans coming, but we’re going to experience it to," she said.

Parker is helping oversee the transformation, working in tandem with the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Visit Detroit, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation who are all tasked with keeping local businesses appraised of the changing format of the city.

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The entire event will cover about 2.1 million square feet of downtown. 

But it's not just Campus Martius and Hart Plaza that is getting the treatment. The prospects that will arrive in Detroit before learning of what team will draft them will spend the first night with their families and friends at Fox Theater, which is further up Woodward Avenue.

They'll get to do photo opportunities as they get excited about their future, Parker said. From there, they'll be ushered to a green room where they'll get prepped for the big announcement.

"As soon as the team is on the clock, and they hear their name, they’re excited and their life changes forever," she said.


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