CONTEXT. Through great effort, Detroit’s sports venues and related organizations have attracted several highly desirable sports championship events. Detroit recently hosted both the 2006 Superbowl XL and the 2009 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four Championship. These types of events create tremendous opportunities for their host cities to generate revenue and gain positive publicity. Hotels, restaurants, and retail stores all benefit greatly from the influx of spending, and while revenue estimates vary widely, the simple fact is that for cities such as Detroit, these are exceptional opportunities. Publicity is another asset to event hosting. According to one estimate, during the Final Four, Ford received as much as $22.5 million in publicity by having naming rights to the venue that hosted both events. Additionally, on a national scale, positive Detroit publicity is invaluable.
During both events, Detroit created a staged idealization of its urban experience; temporary bars opened in abandoned storefronts and the city lights blazed for one weekend. The riverfront and streetscapes were further animated by city-sponsored entertainment, including free concerts. The spectacle strategy is applied in many other host cities, in part, to provide comfortable urban environments for non-urban visitors. Alive with people, the city appeared occupied and marketable. Detroit excels at hosting such affairs, as evidenced by the success of these events, as well as the The Detroit International Auto Show, The Red Bull Air Race and The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
But every other day of the year, Detroit struggles. There is great need for viable, creative solutions to the many issues that face the city. While greater investment, public safety, and schools are obvious long term objectives, as a starting point, street activity and beautification are critical components of a day to day urban vitality. Continue reading