Detroit Launches New Group to Score Major Events

By Matt Swenson, November 15, 2017

Few American cities have hosted the breadth of top sporting events as Detroit. From 2004 to 2009, the Motor City welcomed the Super Bowl, the MLB All-Star Game, the Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship and the NCAA Final Four, as well as NBA Finals and World Series.

But for each of those events, the city created a local organizing committee and a committee to stage the event. City backers like Dave Beachnau identified a need to make the city’s sports destination profile less about the individual pieces and more about the big picture.

Detroit Sports Organizing Corp., announced in October, is the city’s latest effort to streamline and strategize hosting major events.

The organization is a permanent group comprised of representatives from local sports teams, media, businesses, government and education. DSOC members include NBC’s Mike Tirico, Detroit Lions President Rod Wood and Detroit Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem.

Detroit Sets the Pace

Beachnau, the senior vice president of marketing, sales and sports for the Detroit Metro CVB, says that the group has already started meeting to develop a plan for the prioritization, funding and coordination of future sports happenings in Motor City.

It may be a new model for destinations to do business. Leaders from other cities have contacted Beachnau for a blueprint to launch a similar commission.

“We knew that if we could create more of a permanent group it would certainly create more continuity, more consistency and at the same time have the key stakeholders around the table making strategic decisions about which events we pursue and when we pursue them,” says Beachnau, who serves on the committee. “We’ve got a lot of great opportunities ahead of us. To be thoughtful and strategic as a community is very, very important.”

Michael Wright, chief of staff at Wayne State University and the chairman of the DSOC, says that the group’s formation coincides with downtown Detroit’s major revitalization. Little Caesars Arena, home of the Red Wings and Pistons, opened this year. U.S. Figure Skating tapped the venue for the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

“I’ve seen renaissances come and go in Detroit, but this is real,” Wright says. “And it’s backed by people with vision and people willing to invest, and people who are smart. We know that when people come here they’re going to love it.”

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