The Detroit Lions might have been one of the NFL’s worst teams during the 2021 season, but that doesn’t change the fact that folks have a good time when attending their games relative to the experience.
Across the NFL, there are some very unique pregame situations that vary city to city. While many might not line up to give Detroit much credit at all, the Lions placed surprisingly high on a new list ranking the best pregame experiences in the league.
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Bookies.com put together a listing of all the pregame experiences across the league. The ranking was based on an algorithm that factors in multiple things, namely, how close a team is from the city center, the ability to tailgate, entertainment around the stadium and safety and entertainment for families.
Perhaps shockingly for some, Detroit placed in a tie for 19th on the list along with the Arizona Cardinals. Detroit was just behind the rival Chicago Bears who occupied the 18th spot on the list, but ahead of some bigger franchises and traditional NFL powers from bigger cities such as the Los Angeles Rams/Chargers (T-29th), New England Patriots (27th) and New York Giants (23rd).
As a June 21 piece by Adam Thompson revealed, there are a few positives and negatives to note about Detroit’s pregame situation overall.
“Tailgating options aren’t great in downtown Detroit. The atmosphere mostly involves walking into the stadium – in other words, not very exciting. But its location for Motor City residents is very walkable and there is ample entertainment in the district that also includes the Tigers’ stadium next door,” Thompson wrote.
Still, many on the outside may have assumed the Lions could be nestled safely in the lower-tier, if not 32nd overall, given how Detroit is usually overlooked nationally, but that was simply not the case. The algorithm seemed to like Ford Field’s location as well as their fit within the criteria enough for close to a middle-of-the-pack ranking.
Ford Field Occupies Unique Space in Detroit
A neat aspect about the Lions’ situation is their stadium is located near Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers. It’s also within walking distance of Little Caesars Arena where the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons are based.
That creates a situation where all four of the city’s major sports teams are within close proximity. Theoretically, the crossover could create a situation where downtown is vibrant as a result, with multiple sports, concerts or big events going on at the same time, adding to a fun vibe in town.
Perhaps if there was an improvement to be garnered from this, it’s tailgating. If Detroit could add a bit on that front, it could make the game-day experience that much better in the future.
Opened in 2002 after the team’s move from the aging Silverdome, Ford Field is one of the newer stadiums in use in the NFL, and hosted Super Bowl 40 as a result in 2006. The stadium has also hosted many major events such as the 2008 NCAA regional final, 2009 Final Four and the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four.
Detroit will also soon play host to the 2024 NFL draft, putting what Detroit has to offer on display for a national audience.
Lions Future Could Lead to Improved Ranking Soon
A big variable that could boost these numbers in addition to the continued revitalization of Detroit?
The fact that the Lions might be poised to have a major turnaround on the field in the years ahead with more winning. After decades of stumbling through the football wilderness, the Lions cleaned house in the 2021 offseason and managed to land a savvy general manager in Brad Holmes as well as a powder keg head coach in Dan Campbell.
The ability of Holmes to add exciting players to the roster and Campbell to captivate the players as well as the fans and their attention figures to be a big advantage for the Lions in the future. If Detroit starts winning more games and finds a way to turn things around, the team could soon have one of the most exciting football markets around.
For years, Detroit’s been called a football town first in spite of having the “Hockeytown” moniker for years, but the lack of success has given fans little reason to sustain that momentum and show how passionate they truly can be. If the Lions kick things into high gear, it’s possible they could make a run at a top 10 ranking in the near future as the city comes along.