Return of Detroit Grand Prix to downtown boosts business

The Detroit Grand Prix was back on downtown streets for the first time in 32 years - and businesses could not be happier after a big weekend.

"We had great music down here. The crowd that the Grand Prix brought was excellent, we couldn't ask for better people to be down here," said Dan Finley at Tin Roof Detroit.

That’s exactly what the team at Tin Roof Detroit across from Comerica Park was looking for, going into Detroit Grand Prix Weekend.

"There were so many people, like even my own father - it’s been years since he had seen the Grand Prix in the city," said Finley. "I guess he wasn’t a kid back then, but old memories of how great it was. People who don’t normally come downtown had to come down and see it and check it out.

"It’s crazy going through the streets out here instead of Belle Isle. It was an awesome scene."

The same impact was felt at The Golden Fleece Restaurant in Greektown.

"You could hear the roaring of the cars, they had it playing on some of the speakers, a lot of out of towners." said Jose Alvarez, manager. "It was really busy. A lot more than usual so business is picking back up. I’m glad to see that."

Race organizers tell FOX 2 they projected a $20 million increase in economic spending over previous years with the race back on the streets - on top of the $55 million in revenue generated when it was on Belle Isle.

Grand Prix planners say they designed the 1.7-mile circuit strategically to be more inclusive - keeping it from running north of Jefferson - with 280 small businesses located within a 15-minute walk of the track.

They created a Small Business Straightaway too.

"We invited 30 small businesses from the neighborhoods," said Letty Azar, Penske Corporation. "We heard loud and clear that neighborhood businesses felt very disconnected from major events.

"We really hoped and believed if we built this event the right way - both physically and programmatically, …that we could have a positive impact on local economy."

And with other major events coming to town like the NFL Draft and college basketball’s Final Four, business people FOX 2 talked with, hope the Grand Prix green is a taste of things to come.

"It’s going to be a great time over the next few years," said Finley. "We’re super excited here at Tin Roof just for the Draft and everything next year. It’s going to be a wild time."