NFL draft attendance record within reach in Detroit, Commissioner Roger Goodell tells fans on Day 2


DETROIT (AP) — The NFL draft tour has not had a stop quite like the one in Detroit.

“We watched 32 amazing players join the NFL family in front of a record 275,000 people,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told fans who flooded downtown Detroit on Friday for a second straight day. “Guess what? Another 230,000 are already here tonight.

“So Detroit, you’re within 100,000 of breaking the all-time record.”

Nashville drew 600,000 fans over the three days of the NFL draft in 2019 to set the mark the Motor City will shoot to surpass on Saturday. Nashville had the previous first- and second-round records, drawing 200,000 fans each day.

Michigan coach Sherrone Moore, assistant coaches and players he has returning from last season’s national championship-winning team were introduced on stage by Goodell, and the crowd sang the school’s fight song before the second round kicked off.

“It’s super special to be here,” Wolverines tight end Colston Loveland said. “Detroit showed out, for sure.

“There’s lot of bodies here.”

Streets, restaurants, bars and hotels were filled for a second straight day as fans of the 32 teams gathered for a party that showed no signs of slowing down.

Larry Kordosky traveled from Arizona to attend his second NFL draft and left no doubt who his favorite team is, wearing red and blue pants with Bills logos and a Buffalo jersey under black shoulder pads.

“You couldn’t ask for a better crowd or host,” Kordosky said, standing in a rare open space in the middle of Campus Martius Park. “I had never been to Detroit. I love it. It’s an amazing city.

“I went to the draft in Las Vegas two years ago, but it was nothing like this. There are fans everywhere, especially Lions fans.”

Lions season-ticket holder Reiner Calderero of Warren, Michigan, and Christopher Guiao of Sterling Heights were in the first row up against a barricade just beyond the covered theater area where the picks were announced.

They were easy to pick out in the crowd.

The men wore the same Honolulu blue and silver masks they put on for home games at nearby Ford Field.

Guiao said the NFL draft experience exceeded his high expectations.

“All day, both days, the whole area has been packed,” he said. “Hopefully, the world sees what we see. Detroit is a beautiful city with warm people.”

In addition to the intangible benefits of showing the city in a good light for visitors and 50-plus million people watching on TVs, phones and tablets, the economic impact was expected to exceed $160 million and that’s when local organizers were expecting 400,000 fans to attend the three-day event.

More than 20 teams have inquired about hosting a future NFL draft and Green Bay will be on the clock after the seventh round concludes Saturday.

The Motor City, which was once one of the nation’s largest and most powerful cities, has bounced back from filing for bankruptcy in 2013 and has made the most of an opportunity to shine.

“A special thank you to everybody here who came from across Michigan and across the United States to help Detroit set new attendance records for the NFL draft,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, joined by Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, said on stage before announcing the Lions had drafted Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. in the second round.

The NFL draft is giving Detroit a chance to show the world how far it has come, according to Dan Gilbert, whose real-estate company, Bedrock, was among the private and public entities to land the league’s annual event.

“The city, it’s got an energy to it,” Gilbert said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think that’s one of the reasons we’re able to convince the NFL to do the draft out here. They could feel the energy as we took them on tours here.”


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